What is Breach of Duty?
Most personal injury claims involve negligence. A person is negligent when they fail to act with reasonable care.
A breach of duty is the second legal element in most negligence cases. If you cannot prove a breach of duty, you cannot win a negligence case. Consulting with a personal injury lawyer in Philadelphia, PA, is the first step in determining whether the other party breached the duty of care.
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Examining the Duty of Care in an Accident Case
Your relationship with another party can create a duty for one or both of you to act in a specific manner. For example, as a driver, you owe a duty of care to all people on the road to obey traffic laws. When you fail to obey traffic laws, you increase the risk of an automobile accident.
Another example would be doctors. Health care providers owe a duty of care to their patients not to cause harm or injury. Likewise, property owners owe a duty of care to maintain safe properties for guests.
The duty of care appears in most types of personal injury cases, including but not limited to cases involving:
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
- Motor vehicle accidents, including bicycle, pedestrian, truck, motorcycle, and car accidents
- Daycare injures
- Workplace and construction accidents
- Dog bites and animal attacks
- Medical malpractice
- Slip and fall accidents and other premises liability claims
- Defective product claims (product liability)
- Commercial and government transportation accidents
- Wrongful deaths
The first step in a negligence claim is to prove that a duty of care existed between you and the other party. If so, then you must prove that the party’s conduct or actions breached that duty of care.
Common Reasons Why People Breach the Duty of Care?
Failing to use the acceptable level of care for a particular situation may be considered a breach of duty. The level of care is based on what a “reasonable person” would do in a specific situation.
The “reasonable person” used to measure a defendant’s conduct is a hypothetical legal standard. The jury members decide what a “reasonable person” would do given the facts of the case.
They compare the defendant’s actions to the standard of care. If the defendant’s conduct falls short of the standard, the jury may find that the defendant breached the duty of care.
Reasons why parties breach the duty of care include, but are not limited to, intentional acts, negligence, willful indifference, carelessness, and recklessness.
In most personal injury cases, intent is generally not a factor. If the person breached the duty of care, they could be held financially liable for damages their negligence caused.
However, suppose the jury finds that the defendant could not reasonably foresee how his conduct could injure another party. In that case, the jury may find that the person was not negligent, even though he breached the duty of care. Likewise, if the defendant did not have control over the factors that led to a person’s injuries, the jury may find that the defendant was not negligent.
Recovering Damages for a Breach of Duty Claim
If you prove the elements of a negligence case, including breach of duty, you could be entitled to compensation for your damages.
Damages for an injury case may include:
- The cost of personal care and medical treatment
- Loss of income and benefits, including future lost wages and reductions in earning potential
- Impairments and disabilities
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
- Physical pain and suffering
- Reduced quality of life and loss of enjoyment of life
Calculating a personal injury claim can be tricky. The value of a personal injury claim depends on the facts of the case and the severity of the injuries. There are several defenses that a defendant might allege that could lower the value of your personal injury claim.
Defenses to Claims of Negligence and Liability
Even though a defendant might be guilty of breach of duty, the defendant may raise allegations of comparative negligence.
Under Pennsylvania statute 42 P.S. §7102, a victim’s compensation may be reduced if the person is partially to blame for the cause of the injury. The reduction equals the percentage of fault assigned to the victim. However, if the fault totals 51 percent or more, the victim is barred from recovering any money for damages.
A defendant could also argue that the victim assumed the risk. Therefore, the victim should not be entitled to damages. An experienced Philadelphia personal injury lawyer understands how to fight various defenses to negligence claims.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer
If someone breached their duty of care and caused your harm, we want to help. At Zavodnick, Zavodnick & Lasky, LLC, your best interests are our top priority. We work to get you the money you deserve after a personal injury or accident.
Contact our law firm today to schedule your free consultation with one of our Philadelphia personal injury attorneys. We fight to get you a fair settlement for your accident claim.