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What is a Duty of Care

What is a duty of care? If you are asking this question, it is probably because you believe that you or a loved one has been harmed by a breach of a duty of care.

A duty of care is a requirement that a person act toward others and the public with the prudence, caution, attention and watchfulness that a reasonable person would in the same circumstances. A duty of care is a legal obligation that requires a person to adhere to a standard of reasonable care in performing any act that could foreseeably harm anyone else.

When what a person does or does not do fails to meet this duty of care, those actions are seen as being negligent. Any harm that results from this breach of a duty of care, can then be compensated for in a personal injury lawsuit.

First thing

In fact, showing that the defendant had a duty of care to the plaintiff is the first thing that has to be established in a personal injury lawsuit for negligence. Then, it has to be shown that a duty of care was breached by the defendant in regard to the plaintiff, which brought about harm to the plaintiff.

In order to do this, the actions of the defendant are measured against the standard of what a reasonable person’s actions would have been in the same circumstances. A breach of duty is proven when it is demonstrated that the defendant’s actions fell below or did not reach the standard of a duty of care.

Reasonable standard

It should be understood, however, in regard to a duty of care, that the standard of a reasonable person may vary according to the facts of a case. For example, in regard to a medical malpractice lawsuit, the reasonable standard for a doctor would be measured against other doctors, rather than that of the general public.

A duty of care is an obligation that is binding on several different professions. For instance:

A driver has a duty of care to other pedestrians, cyclists, drivers and passengers
A child care worker has a duty of care to children, family members of children, other staff and professionals
An employer has a duty of care to their employees, the general public, the community and other employers
A social worker has a duty of care to their client, family members of the client, staff, other professionals, other clients and the community
A doctor has a duty of care to patients, family members of patients, patients in the waiting room, other professionals and the community (patient with infectious disease).

Perhaps, the easiest and most simple was to understand what a duty of care is, is to think about one person inflicting a blunt trauma on another person. However, a breach of a duty of care can take place when a plaintiff and a defendant are separated by vast distances of time and space.

If you believe that you or a loved one has suffered harm as a result of a breach of a duty of care, the best thing to do is to talk to a personal injury attorney and have your case evaluated at no cost or obligation to you.

Article written by James Shugart

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