What is a Duty of Care?
A duty of care is an obligation that an individual has to conform to a standard of conduct. The duty of care that an individual owes to another depends on the situation. In most situations, the duty of care that every person owes is to act as a reasonably prudent person would under same or similar circumstances. It is important to note that the law imposes a different duty of care on some individuals including Doctors.
Who is the “Reasonably Prudent Person”?
The reasonably prudent person does not exist. The law created the reasonably prudent person in order to illustrate how a real person should act in everyday situations. The reasonably prudent person always assesses how his actions could affect the people around him.
How does the Duty of Care Relate to Negligence?
There are four elements in a negligence case: duty, breach of duty, causation, and actual harm. Duty of care relates to the first two elements of negligence.
There are some situations where a duty of care does not exist. If a duty of care does not exist, the plaintiff will not be able to prove the first element of negligence. Thus, the plaintiff cannot recover anything from the defendant.
The duty of care also relates to the breach element of negligence. When a person’s conduct does not meet the duty of care, they have “breached” their duty. This means that one of the elements of negligence is met.
The plaintiff will not automatically recover if the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff and breached that duty. In order to recover the plaintiff must prove each of the other elements of the negligence case is met – i.e. they must prove damages.
Negligence is the legal basis for many different personal injury cases. If you have been injured in an auto accident, it is important that you obtain an experienced personal injury attorney that can establish each of the elements to a negligence cause of action, including duty and breach of duty.