Young Man Who Jumped Onto Railway Tracks Can Pursue Claim


To succeed in a personal injury claim in court, it is necessary to show both that the other party was negligent and that the negligence was the cause of injury. In the tragic case of a young man who jumped from height onto railway tracks, the High Court was called upon to decide whether he had a reasonable prospect of succeeding in his claims against the police and an NHS trust.

The man had a history of mental health issues and in 2019 had been detained twice under the Mental Health Act 1983, the first time after he had climbed over railings on a bridge and told police who attended that he should have jumped. On 11 August 2020 he was arrested for assaulting his father and sister. Although the police initially concluded that he did not need medical attention, this was reassessed the following day and he was seen by a community psychiatric nurse from the NHS trust’s criminal justice liaison service, but made it clear that he did not wish to be examined. He was released on bail later that day. On 15 August he received a phone call from the NHS trust but claimed he did not want support. Four days later, he jumped from a bridge onto railway tracks and sustained severe spinal injuries. He is now wheelchair dependent.

He brought a claim against the police and the NHS trust, arguing that had he been properly assessed, he would have again been detained under the Act and would not have been at liberty to harm himself. The police and the NHS trust both applied for summary judgment on the grounds that his claim had no reasonable prospect of success.

The Court ruled that, given the man’s mental health history, the police’s initial assessment that he did not require medical attention was wrong and a breach of duty. However, this had been remedied by the reassessment and events following it. It was not for the police to determine the man’s medical care needs and they were entitled to rely on the community psychiatric nurse’s opinions. His claim against the police therefore could not succeed.

The Court found, however, that his claim against the NHS trust raised triable issues. It was arguable that the community psychiatric nurse was wrong to conclude that he could not speak to the man’s mother or GP without his consent, in order to ascertain his mental health history. It could also be argued that breaches of duty arose from the phone call following his release on bail.

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