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Understanding Duty Of Care In A Personal Injury Case

Along with the term "negligence", the term "duty of care" is one of the most often invoked phrases in personal injury cases. However, what is duty of care? If you're talking with a personal injury lawyer about pursuing a personal injury case, or if you are the defendant in a personal injury case, it is important for you to understand exactly what this phrase means. Throughout the course of this brief article, you'll learn how to precisely define duty of care, as well as how to unpack that statement and the consequences that it may have for you if you so find yourself as either the prosecution or the defendant in a personal injury case.

What Is Duty Of Care?

So, how do you exactly define duty of care? In the US legal system, it is presupposed that every individual has a responsibility to care for the well being of another. In cases where a charge of negligence is being levied, this is due to a person perhaps not caring about the well being of another or perhaps simply ignoring the well being of another.

With regards to a violation of duty of care, this basically means you have not taken proactive measures to ensure the well being of another individual or individuals. For example, if you are driving through an intersection and a car runs a red light, and then smashes your car, causing damage to your car as well as bodily injury, you can most likely launch a personal injury case (and win), since the person had not exhibited an amount of precaution – or care – by ignoring or not paying attention to the red light. Although preventative measures were in place – in this case, the red light – the driver was either distracted or unaware of its presence, which means that he or she can most likely be found liable for damages.

How Is Negligence Related To Duty Of Care?

Negligence is essentially, and legally, referred to as a "breach of care". These are cases, like the above red light running example, where the duty of care is effectively ignored. If you press charges under the auspice of negligence, there are 4 things that must be adequately proven in a court of law.

The first of those is the duty of care itself. In other words, what duty did the defendant violate with regard to the plaintiff's care? Secondly, the plaintiff must prove that a breach of that duty did, in fact, take place. Thirdly, the plaintiff must prove what damages he or she incurred due to the defendant's breach of said duty. Finally, the plaintiff must prove causation. This is perhaps the most difficult of the four aspects to prove in a court of law. Essentially, the plaintiff must prove that the damages that he or she incurred were a direct result of the defendant's wrong doing. Going back to the car wreck example, should you say, break a bone due to the wreck, you must prove that the break was a direct result of the defendant's breach of duty and that by the defendant causing your wreck, he or she effectively broke your arm. In cases such as this, it is often times enough to simply prove that the break was not a pre-existing condition.

Duty of care is ultimately the responsibility of all US citizens. By violating a duty of care, you may be charged with negligence or breach of duty of care in a personal injury case. It is imperative that if you find yourself in a personal injury case where you are being charged – or you are doing the charging – of negligence, that you make yourself aware of what exactly duty of care is. Hopefully, this brief article has set you on the right path with regards to what duty of care is and what breaching duty of care entails.