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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger

What Is Duty of Care in Personal Injury Law?

Unfortunately, people get injured every day, and this is often due to the recklessness or negligent behavior of another party. Everyone has a duty of care, and if this is not exercised, the injured person can file a personal injury case and the at-fault party can be held liable for the accident and will have to pay compensation to claimant.

Anyone interested in filing a personal injury claim needs to understand what duty of care is and how it works, as this plays a major role in the outcome of cases. Therefore, without further ado, let's jump straight into it. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also provide information on assumption of risk in a personal injury case.

What Is Duty of Care in Personal Injury Law?

What Is Duty of Care in Personal Injury Law?

Duty of care applies to everyone and is the legal duty to not injure other people and act reasonably. Therefore, when someone breaches their duty of care, they may be held liable for the damage caused and will have to pay damages for the economic and non-economic damages caused as a result of the accident. This is one of the main principles that govern personal injury law. Most of the time, this leads to personal injury lawsuits or insurance claims. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also explain what personal injury fraud is.

A common example of where duty of care applies is a car accident. Each driver has a duty to drive responsibly and follow traffic laws. If a driver fails to stop at a red light, for example, and causes an accident, they will most likely be held responsible for the accident and have to pay damages to the other driver.

In most cases, the duty of care is to act appropriately so as not to cause harm to others. However, the law mandates a higher standard of care in specific circumstances, for instance, those who operate public transportation companies. The companies are obligated to provide a higher standard of care than the general public.

If a bus driver, for example, is involved in an accident while interacting with a passenger, the bus company may be held accountable for the injuries sustained by the passenger. Talking on the phone while driving is not usually a breach of the driver's duty of care to other passengers. However, due to their increased duty of care, these companies may be held accountable for even the smallest infraction or duty breach.

A greater duty of care is also required by law for certain professions, such as attorneys and doctors. In addition to acting in a way that a reasonable person would have in the same situation, a doctor is required to provide the same caliber of treatment that a reasonably competent and skilled healthcare professional from the same medical community and with a comparable background would have given. A breach of this duty could result in medical malpractice.

Businesses and property owners are also subject to the duty of care. Let us consider a scenario whereby a shop owner fails to put up a caution sign stating that the floor is wet. This results in a customer slipping and falling. The shop owner did not perform his or her reasonable business actions to prevent clients from suffering expected damage. Because of this, the client may be entitled to sue the company for injuries sustained in a slip and fall.

Establishing Fault

If it is established that an injured person was owed a duty of care in a particular circumstance, they will need to provide evidence of the other party's violation of that duty. The claimant must prove why the other person has a legal obligation for the injuries that resulted from their actions, as well as how their behavior was careless and unreasonable in the given circumstance.

In a personal injury case, the following four components need to be convincingly proven in order to establish responsibility and negligence:

1. The Existence of a Duty of Care

Personal injury law establishes a duty of care under a wide range of circumstances. A claimant has to prove that the other party owed them a duty of care in the specific situation that resulted in injury.

2. Breached Duty of Care

An experienced attorney can prove that the other party breached his or her duty of care, as required by law, by failing to act in a reasonable manner, resulting in the injuries. Proving negligence is generally not challenging.

3. Damages

The damages need to be linked to the injuries sustained from the accident. Damages can take many forms, such as:

  • Lost wages

  • Medical bills

  • Pain and suffering

  • Etc.

In order to pursue a successful personal injury claim, it needs to be proved that these damages would not have been suffered had it not been for the other party's negligence or recklessness.

4. Causation

This involves proving that the other party caused the injury and that the injury would not have happened had the person exercised their duty of care and followed the law.

When Does a Duty of Care Not Exist in Personal Injury Claims?

Keep in mind that there needs to be a legal connection or link between the victim and the responsible party. Although there is usually a duty of care, there are several situations where it does not exist.

Certain courts require privacy between the seller of goods and the harmed customer in product liability cases, for example. When a seller and a buyer have a business relationship, privity arises.

Individuals who sustain injuries after not directly purchasing a product would need to take other measures to receive financial compensation for their losses.

When someone's conduct might not reasonably be expected to cause injury to another person, there might not be a duty of care. If an injury is unpredictable, there might not be a duty of care.

Speak to a Personal Injury Lawyer Today!

Speak to a Personal Injury Lawyer Today!

Anyone who has sustained injuries as a result of someone else's negligence or a breach of legal duty of care is entitled to compensation for damages suffered. Our experienced Houston personal injury attorneys have been handling personal injury claims for many years and are here to ensure victims get the maximum compensation they're entitled to.

Contact Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys today for a free initial consultation and to learn about your legal rights. We've been handling personal injury cases for many years and will go to war for our clients to ensure their rights are upheld.


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