Establishing a duty of care is essential in proving negligence in a personal injury case. Beyond that, an attorney must demonstrate that an individual or business breached their duty by performing an action that resulted in reasonably forseeable harm to others. Below are common questions clients may have concerning how duty of care relates to their case.
A duty of care requires that an individual adheres to a standard of reasonable care while performing any acts that could forseeably harm others. This includes practicing the same watchfulness, attention, caution, and prudence that a reasonable person would practice in similar circumstances.
When an individual’s actions do not meet this standard of care, then the acts are considered negligent and the individual may be liable for any damages resulting from said actions.
A common example in which a duty of care is owed is when an individual is operating a motor vehicle. As a motorist, an individual owes a duty of care not only to other drivers, but to all other road users. This requirement can be traced back as far as 1832 when Boss v Litton determined that “all persons, paralytic as well as others, have a right to walk on the road and are entitled to the reasonable care on the part of persons driving carriages upon it.”
Individuals are not the only ones who can owe a duty of care. The law requires that the same standard be applied to business and organizations when certain relationships are established. Some examples of this are:
When considering whether a defendant has breached his or her duty of care toward a plaintiff, courts will often ask the following:
While no single question can prove a breach of duty happened, courts can consider all of these questions together to determine if, when applied to the specific facts of a case, they suggest a breach of duty occurred.