The term “duty of care” is an important one in personal injury law. If you’ve been injured and are considering legal action, chances are good you’ve heard this term. But what does it mean, exactly? And what are the implications? In this post, we’ll help you better make sense of this concept.
What is a Duty of Care?
Simply put, a duty of care is the legal responsibility a person or business has to keep others from being harmed. Their behaviors should make reasonable effort to keep others safe.
Examples of Duty of Care Relationships
It’s important to understand that the concept of “duty of care” is a broad one. Every day, we will encounter situations where we are responsible to keep others out of harm’s way through our safe behavior.
To illustrate, here are some examples of duty of care relationships.
- Drivers. All drivers must obey traffic laws. In so doing, they keep other drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists safe.
- Doctors. Doctors have a duty to offer quality care to their patients.
- Property owners. Property owners should keep their premises safe for guests. Examples could include store owners and landlords. Note that trespassers are generally not owed a duty of care.
What is a Breach of Care?
A breach occurs when someone fails in their duty of care. This could be either through careless behaviors or failing to act (omissions). In essence, we would say that such a person is negligent.
Examples of negligent actions could include:
- Drunk driving
- Driving distracted
Examples of omissions that may be negligent include:
- Failure to warn
- Failure to issue a recall
- Failure to order the standard diagnostic tests
If You’ve Been Injured
One of the keys to prevailing in an injury case is to prove that someone else owed you a duty of care and failed in their duty. This is the basis of negligence.
Of course, there are other things to consider:
- Who owed you the duty? Believe it or not, it may not always be clear. For instance, suppose an intoxicated driver hit you. The driver could be negligent, but also the bar who overserved the driver.
- Were you injured? Sometimes people’s carelessness is an annoyance but doesn’t seriously hurt you or anyone else. While there may be other action you could take, an injury claim may not be one of them.
- Did you suffer damages? In order to have a successful claim, you need to demonstrate that your injury caused you real harm. Examples could include medical treatment, surgery, hospitalization, missed wages, disability, pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and other mental harms.
We recommend that you call our lawyers and ask for a free consultation. We’ll hear what happened to you and let you know if we feel you have a case. You only pay us a fee if we win you a settlement.