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What is the Duty of Care?

Posted on July 7, 2022

There are various situations that arise where one entity owes a duty of care to another entity. If a person violates the duty of care that they owe someone else in a given situation, this could lead to a breach of duty that causes another person injuries. Often, this leads to insurance claims or personal injury lawsuits. Here, we want to show how the duty of care is defined by four separate elements that must each be present in order for a claim of negligence to be viable.

The Duty of Care – A Major Element of Proving Negligence

A duty of care exists in most situations people are involved in, though it’s not something people think about often. The existence of a duty of care in a given situation is also the first required element to prove when a personal injury claim based on negligence arises.

In order to understand what a duty of care is, we should look at some examples. The reality is that a duty of care will look different depending on the circumstances involved in a given situation.

Drivers and the duty of care

Most of us drive or are at least around vehicles on a regular basis. When you, or anyone, gets behind the wheel of a vehicle, they owe a duty of care to other drivers, passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians. This duty involves abiding by all traffic laws and operating the vehicle safely.

When a driver makes a mistake, an accident and injuries can occur. Drivers can violate their duty of care in a number of ways, including operating while impaired, driving while distracted, failing to use a turn signal, speeding, and more.

Property owners’ duty of care

Property owners owe a duty of care to anyone who has a right to step onto their premises. This duty of care extends to private residence owners as well as business owners and those who operate government property.

A duty of care for property owners includes regularly inspecting their premises for any hazards and remedying any hazards that are located. If a hazard cannot be fixed right away, any visitors to the property should receive an adequate warning about the dangerous condition.

Medical providers’ duty of care

Medical professionals have a duty to uphold the medical standard of care (a legal term) to every patient under their purview. This duty of care entails a number of things, including taking a patient medical history, listening to patient concerns, providing adequate medical treatment, obtaining informed consent, and more. When a doctor-patient relationship is established, the duty of care exists.

Other Elements of Negligence

The duty of care is only the first element of proving negligence for an injury case. The other elements include:

  • Breach – showing that the defendant somehow deviated from their duty of care.
  • Causation – proving that the breach of duty caused the injuries in question.
  • Damages – showing that the injury victims sustained monetary losses due to their injuries.

It is crucial to work with a personal injury lawyer in Illinois who can help walk you through each step of proving negligence and determine whether or not your case could be successful.