When you obey traffic laws, you’re fulfilling your legal responsibility to act with caution when around others. This is what’s known as your “duty of care.” When someone does not uphold their duty of care, called a breach of duty, they could harm themselves and others. They can be held liable for their actions in a personal injury case.
If someone else’s negligence has injured you, the Houston personal injury lawyers at Reich & Binstock are here to help. Our attorneys have experience handling a wide range of personal injury cases. We handle cases involving car accidents, medical malpractice, premises liability, and more. Call (713) 622-7271 today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced attorney on our team.
What Does Duty of Care Mean?
When a person has a duty of care, it means that they have to act in a way that reduces harm to others when participating in an activity with foreseeable risks. When someone drives a car, that person owes the other drivers on the road a duty of care. This means they should behave as any reasonable person would when behind the wheel.
What Is a Reasonable Person in Breach of Duty Cases?
The reasonable person standard establishes a baseline for people in certain situations. It allows the court to determine whether or not someone in the same circumstances would have acted the same way.
In the case of a car accident, the court would establish what a reasonable person would do when driving. Suppose the defendant ran a red light. The court would decide that the defendant did not act how a reasonable person would have acted in that situation.
What Is a Breach of Duty?
A breach of duty occurs when someone owes a duty of care to another person and then does not provide them with reasonable care. If the defendant owed the plaintiff (the injury victim) a duty of care, and the defendant’s conduct was outside of what a reasonable person would have done, the defendant may have breached that duty.
What Are Examples of Breach of Duty?
Breach of duty can happen in a number of ways by various people or groups of people, including medical professionals, employers, and product manufacturers. Below are some examples of what a beach of duty could look like in different situations.
Breach of Duty in Auto Accident Claims
In car accident claims, a person can breach their duty of care to others by doing things like driving distracted, driving drunk, or failing to obey traffic laws. If someone is driving through a downtown area, they have a legal obligation to act with reasonable care around pedestrians, cyclists, and other drivers. If they start messing with the radio and then hit a pedestrian, they could be found to have breached their duty of care to that pedestrian.
Breach of Duty in Premises Liability Claims
Property owners have a responsibility to maintain safe premises and reasonably protect anyone who visits their property. Suppose. a homeowner has an awning over their back porch that they know needs repair. They should have it repaired or replaced before inviting anyone over. If the property owner puts off calling a handyman until after their upcoming backyard barbeque, they are putting all of their visitors at risk of injury, and could be found liable in a premises liability case.
Breach of Duty in Workplace Accident Claims
Employers must provide their employees with a duty of care while on the job. This includes properly training employees and providing adequate safety measures. If a construction company fails to properly train one of its employees, and that employee operates a crane, the employer could be held liable for any work injuries that occur as a result of the employee’s lack of training.
Breach of Duty in Medical Malpractice Claims
Doctors and other medical professionals are legally obligated to protect their patients from unnecessary harm. This means they must carry out their job and provide patients with reasonable care. If a surgeon is scheduled to operate on a person’s left knee but looks over the medical chart too fast and operates on the person’s right knee, they could be held liable for their actions in a medical malpractice case.
What Types of Cases Can Involve a Breach of Duty?
A breach of duty can occur in negligence cases and in strict liability cases. The personal injury claim will either be a negligence case or a strict liability case, depending on the circumstances of the accident.
How Does a Breach of Duty Happen in a Negligence Claim?
In a negligence case, breach of duty occurs when the defendant has a duty of care to someone and acts in a way that would breach that duty of care, which causes someone to be hurt. A negligence claim requires proof that the at-fault party breached their duty of care. This can be through an action, a failure to act, or through general carelessness.
How Does a Breach of Duty Happen in a Strict Liability Case?
In a strict liability case, breach of duty occurs when the defendant causes someone to be hurt. Strict liability cases do not require proof that the defendant’s conduct was negligent; they only require proof of injury and proof that the defendant caused the injury.
What is Strict Liability?
Strict liability is a legal doctrine that applies to certain injury cases, which holds people who engage in certain activities liable for any damages they cause. Usually, someone can be held strictly liable if they are doing something that is known to have severe consequences. Strict liability often applies to product liability cases, wild animal ownership cases, and cases involving abnormal dangerous activities.
For example, owning a wild animal is inherently dangerous. Suppose someone owns a chimpanzee that escapes and hurts someone. The chimp owner would automatically be liable for that person’s injuries. The victim does not have to prove that the defendant left the monkey’s enclosure unsecured or knowingly left it outside unsupervised–simply owning the monkey is dangerous enough to establish liability.
How to Prove the Defendant Breached the Duty of Care in Personal Injury Cases
To prove that the defendant breached their duty of care, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant did not act like a reasonable person would have acted. This can be tricky. It can require things like eyewitness testimonies, expert testimonies, and other forms of evidence to prove negligence. Luckily, victims can hire a personal injury lawyer to evaluate the case, collect evidence from the accident, and prove the defendant’s breach of duty on their behalf.
Contact the Houston Personal Injury Attorneys at Reich & Binstock Today
If you suffered injuries due to someone else’s negligence, you deserve compensation for your losses. Reich & Binstock is here to help you recover compensation for things like medical expenses, lost wages, emotional distress, and more. Call our Houston personal injury law firm at (713) 622-7271. You can also contact us online and schedule a free consultation with one of our legal professionals.