Doctrine of Alternative Danger

This doctrine is also referred to as “the dilemma principle”, “choice of evils” or the agony of moment. Where the plaintiff is suddenly put in a position of imminent personal danger by the wrongful act of the defendant and he takes a reasonable decision to avoid the danger and acts accordingly and suffers injuries consequently, the defendant is liable. A person put in sudden and imminent danger must not be expected to exercise the same coolness and wisdom which he would have displayed apart from the emergency.

The rule is that not only a man cannot with impunity harm others by his negligence; but his negligence cannot put them in a worse position with regard to the estimation of default. You shall not drive a man into a situation where there is tort or risk everywhere, and then say that he suffered by his own imprudence. Neither shall you complain that he did not foresee and provide against your negligence. We are entitled to count on the ordinary prudence of our fellowmen until we have specific warning to the contrary.

The Supreme Court decision in Shyam Sunder v. State of Rajasthan, is also the similar effect. In this case due to the negligence on the part of the defendants, the State of Rajasthan, a truck belonging to them caught fire hardly after it had covered a distance of only four miles on a particular day. One of the occupants Navneetlal jumped out to save himself from the fire, he struck against a stone lying by the road side and died instantaneously. The defendants were held liable for the same.

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