Franklin v South Eastern Railway – Case Summary

Franklin v South Eastern Railway

Court of Exchequer

Citations: (1858) 3 Hurlstone and Norman 211; 157 ER 448.


The claimant was an elderly and infirm man whose son assisted him at work. His son was killed in a train collision, which was caused by the negligence of the defendant’s employees. This affected the claimant’s ability to earn money, since he no longer had his son’s assistance at work. He sued the defendant for his losses.

  1. Had the claimant suffered an actionable loss?

The Court held in favour of the claimant. The claimant was entitled to damages reflecting his economic losses (the inability to earn money) resulting from his son’s death.

This Case is Authority For…

If a person makes a dependency claim after a fatal accident, they are only entitled to pecuniary losses arising from the death. They are not entitled to damages for grief or emotional harm.


It is enough that the dependant can prove they reasonably expected to obtain the pecuniary benefit: there is no need to show that the dependant was guaranteed to get that benefit.