If you’re pursuing a personal injury claim, you may have heard the term “duty of care”. This is an important part of your claim—in fact, it’s so important that if you are unable to prove the other party’s duty of care to you, you may not have a claim at all. By learning what this means and how it affects your daily life, you can strengthen your personal injury claim and make choices that protect those around you.
The team at Turner, Onderdonk, Kimbrough, Howell, Huggins & Bradley understands that personal injury claims can be overwhelming. This is especially true if you are trying to heal from serious injuries. We can help you navigate this challenging process and advocate for you. Give us a call today to set up a consultation. You can reach our Bay Minette office at 251-651-0483 or our Chatom office at 251-847-2237.
Understanding What “Duty of Care” Means
Believe it or not, simply by existing, you have a duty to the people around you. You are obligated to take reasonable steps to avoid harming them. Just as you have this obligation to those around you, the people around you have the same obligation to you. When they violate that duty of care and cause you to become injured, you may have a personal injury claim.
It isn’t enough to prove that a duty of care existed and was breached. There are actually four elements that must exist in your claim:
- The duty of care exists.
- The other party breached that duty.
- That breach of duty led to an accident that left you injuries.
- You, as the victim, have measurable damages.
Duty of Care in Different Situations
“Duty of care” sounds like a vague concept until you see it in practice. Knowing what the duty of care might be in different types of personal injury claims is a good way to understand it better.
In a car accident, you and the other driver have a duty of care to each other. Drivers are expected to follow the law and drive in a way that minimizes the risk of harm to themselves and others. As an extreme example, you cannot drive 80 miles per hour in a school zone simply because you are late to work. You have to consider your duty of care to those around you.
Property owners have a duty of care to visitors, customers, and clients. They must keep their property safe and free of obstacles. If they fail to do so—for example, by not maintaining a stairwell that later collapses underneath someone—they breach that duty.
Medical malpractice is a unique area of personal injury law. Doctors have a duty of care to their patients. The care they provide must be in line with their training, the ethical standards of their licensing board, and what other doctors with similar training and experience would do.
When the Duty of Care is Breached
When someone fails to fulfill their duty of care and someone else is injured, they may be liable for the injured party’s medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses. However, you must be able to prove that the breach of duty led to the accident that caused your injuries.
How This Affects Your Claim
When you understand the four elements of a duty of care, it’s obvious how important it is in every personal injury claim. It’s not enough that someone violated their duty of care. There must be actual injuries and losses stemming from it.
For example, sometimes people think they can seek compensation from a doctor because they made an unsafe decision that could have killed them. Personal injury law doesn’t deal with what “could have” happened. It deals with what did happen and how it relates to the other party’s actions.
Start Your Claim with Turner, Onderdonk, Kimbrough, Howell, Huggins & Bradley
If you believe your injuries are linked to someone else’s negligence or malice, you shouldn’t be left shouldering the cost of your injuries. Let us help you with your claim. To get started, call our Bay Minette office at 251-651-0483, call our Chatom office at 251-847-2237, or fill out our online contact form.