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Understanding the “Duty of Care” in a Personal Injury Claim

The majority of personal injury cases rely on the presence of negligence—the injured person must establish that there was a “duty of care” the defendant failed to uphold. In personal injury cases, lawyers must establish key elements to prove the defendant was negligent. Most importantly, they must assert that the defendant breached their duty of care. Consulting with a skilled personal injury lawyer is the best way to understand the standards at play in your situation. Here is a closer look at the key components of a personal injury case and the importance of establishing duty of care.

The Four Elements of a Personal Injury Case

The success of a personal injury case hinges on your lawyer being able to assert four key elements:

1. The defendant had a legal duty of care to the plaintiff in the specific situation.
2. The defendant was in breach of their legal responsibility to uphold a duty of care to the plaintiff.
3. The defendant’s behavior is the main cause of the plaintiff’s injury.
4. The injury caused to the plaintiff as a result of the defendant’s breach is worthy of compensation.

In short, personal injury cases seek to prove that the defendant failed to uphold a legal responsibility or industry safety standard that directly resulted in an injury to the plaintiff.

Understanding Duty of Care

Duty of care is a legal concept that refers to the responsibility people have to avoid causing harm to one another. In a personal injury case, the first step is to prove that there was a duty of care present in the situation that the defendant failed to uphold. In other words, lawyers will establish that there was a safety standard in the form of a traffic law, product label, or so on that the other party violated. After a duty of care is established, the plaintiff must provide evidence that the defendant failed to meet that duty and that this failure directly resulted in injuries to the plaintiff.

Duty of Care in Personal Injury Claims

Duty of care is specific to each situation. Different kinds of personal injury cases rely on different safety standards. Let’s consider a personal injury claim resulting from a traffic accident.

Every driver has a legal responsibility to operate their vehicle with a level of caution to ensure the safety of other drivers and pedestrians. When on the road, drivers must consider factors such as traffic laws, weather, and road conditions. Each state has their own set of vehicle and traffic codes that outline a driver’s legal responsibilities. In a personal injury claim, a plaintiff might assert that the defendant did not uphold their legal duties as a driver—in the form of speeding or driving under the influence—and is therefore in breach of their duty of care.

Establishing Fault in Personal Injury Claims

After a duty of care is established, the plaintiff’s attorney must provide evidence on how the defendant violated their standard of care. A lawyer will usually establish fault by providing police reports, eyewitness testimonies, and evidence from the accident scene.

While it may seem like establishing breach of care would be simple, in most cases, it can be difficult to prove the other party is fully at fault. For example, if a driver switches lanes without a turn signal, resulting in a crash, but the police report shows the plaintiff was speeding, a jury or insurance company might decide the plaintiff is at least partially responsible for the injury. In personal injury cases, it is best to consult a skilled lawyer who can navigate the complexities of your unique situation.

Consult With a Trusted Personal Injury Attorney

Consulting with a trusted personal injury attorney is the best way to navigate the specific standards of care and complexities associated with your case. Robert Baker is a board-certified personal injury lawyer with more than 30 years of experience representing residents in South Florida. Whether your accident occurred in a car, on a boat, or walking on the sidewalk, attorney Robert Baker has the knowledge and skills to best represent your case.

To schedule a free consultation with one of our trusted attorneys, complete an online contact form or call today at (561) 320-0000.

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