What is Breach of Duty?Request Free Consultation
Individuals and businesses alike are expected to act with a certain level of care while interacting with others in their daily activities. This is called a duty of care.
Breach of duty is a legal term that refers to the failure to act with that certain and necessary level of expected care. This action, or in some cases, inaction, can result in an accident or injury for which the victim may choose to file a claim, such as a personal injury or medical malpractice claim. Should the victim file a claim with the help of their personal injury lawyer, they will be tasked with proving that the defendant is liable because they acted negligently.
Breach of duty is one of the four main elements in proving negligence. In order to prove negligence and liability, the victim must prove the following four things:
- The defendant owed the victim a duty of care
- The defendant breached the duty of care owed
- The breach caused the victim to be harmed
- The victim suffered an injury and damages as a result
Standards of Care in Personal Injury Claims
Depending on the relationship between the victim and the defendant, the standard of care will vary as will the types of negligence applicable. For a victim to file a claim, they must have suffered an injury due to the defendant’s negligence.
The ordinary standard duty of care applies to personal relationships and everyday life. It is the expectation that individuals will act with the same level of care that any reasonable person would exercise in a similar situation.
In an ordinary negligence claim, the victim would need to prove that the defendant breached their duty of care by failing to act as any other reasonable person might have in the same situation.
Some examples of ordinary negligence include:
- Texting and driving and causing a car crash
- Drunk driving and hitting a parked car, pedestrians, someone’s property, etc
- Failure to properly and safely maintain property resulting in an injury to a visitor to the property
The professional duty of care applies to professional relationships, such as doctor-patient relationships. The degree of care expected in this situation is expected to be the same as the care that would be exercised by other competent professionals under the same or similar situations.
To prove professional negligence, the victim would have to prove that the professional acted negligently, and breached their duty of care. Many professional negligence cases are medical malpractice claims.
Some examples of this include:
- Failure to properly diagnose, causing a patient’s condition to worsen
- Misreading a patient’s chart and operating on the wrong limb
- Failure to listen to a client’s complaint, causing their condition to worsen, or causing their death
Negligence Per Se
Negligence per se is when a defendant violates a statute or law that is meant to protect public safety. Some examples of this include:
- Running a red light and hitting another car in the intersection
- Speeding and hitting a pedestrian
- Walking a vicious dog off leash at a park where leashes are required and it attacks another dog or person
Simply put, a breach of duty is when a law or reasonable action meant to protect others is not followed or taken, resulting in an injury.