How Is ‘Duty of Care’ Related to Determining Negligence?

Personal injury cases that involve negligence are founded on the concept of ‘duty of care.’ In short, the person filing the claim must show how the other party was responsible for his or her wellbeing and contributed to the accident in some way. This is true for work incidents, slip and fall accidents, car collisions, wrongful death cases and other types of personal injury suits.

Trained attorneys are imperative to defending innocent people who should be compensated for damages and injury. They work to defend the injured person’s interests. This includes showing how the other party had a reasonable duty of care and was negligent. Let’s look deeper into these two concepts and how they are key to building a strong case.


To establish that someone was negligent, the plaintiff’s lawyer must first show a number of other factors. The elements of negligence include:

  • Duty: The other party had a reasonable legal duty of care for the person who was injured.
  • Breach of Duty: The other party did not meet that duty of care in their actions or inactions.
  • Cause in Fact: The injury could have been prevented if the other party had met their duty of care.
  • Proximate Cause: The other party’s actions or failure to act caused the damage or injury.
  • Damages: The injured person experienced some loss because of this failure to uphold the duty of care.

As you can see, the concept of ‘duty of care’ is fundamental to showing negligence in a personal injury case.

Duty of Care

A legal duty of care is defined by what a reasonable person would do or not do in similar circumstances. In general, the plaintiff’s lawyer will work to show how the other party failed to act like a reasonable person in that situation which caused the injury or damages.

Proving legal liability requires demonstrating, first, that other party had some responsibility in protecting the plaintiff or preventing injury in that type of situation. Second, it must be shown that the other party didn’t uphold this duty. Third, it must be established that damage and injury could have been prevented. Forth, they must show how the other party’s failure to act with reasonable care actually inflicted injury on the plaintiff. Finally, damages are estimated based on lost wages or income, related medical expenses, as well as pain and suffering.

Who Has a Duty of Care?

According to the courts, this duty of care is owed to some particular individuals and the general public. In these cases, a party’s legal responsibility depends on that person’s role, relationship to the plaintiff, the situation and the resources available. Some roles and jobs have what’s known as ‘special duty of care’ in minimizing the risk of harm to others. Teachers and doctors, for example, have extra responsibility in protecting the wellbeing of students and patients.

Here are some other examples of situations in which a certain level of duty may be legally required.

  • Employers have a duty of care to ensure a healthy and safe work environment for their staff and employees.
  • Property owners have a duty of care to protect visitors on the premises and prevent injury caused by unreasonable risk.
  • Drivers have a duty of care to drive responsibly and avoid accidents with others on the road.
  • Pharmacists and pharmaceutical companies have a duty of care to provide accurate prescriptions, medical information, instructions and dosages.
  • Manufacturers have a duty of care in preventing injury caused by a flaw or failure of their products.

What Are the Limits of Duty of Care?

There are limits to what types of accidents or injuries for which someone can be held legally responsible. This duty depends on three main factors: foreseeability, reasonableness and calculus of risk.


To be held responsible for damages or injury, the hazard must be foreseeable. A party cannot be held liable for a risk that wasn’t predictable.


If a particular danger could be expected, then that party may be legally responsible for taking reasonable measures to prevent injury or damage.

Calculus of Risk

In some cases, negligence can be calculated to determine if a duty of care has been breached. The court may weigh the cost of preventative measures against the probability of injury. This estimation may also take into account the severity of any possible injuries, the practicality and availability of precautions and standard practice in similar situations.

Are you considering your options? Find out When It’s Advisable to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney.

Consult with a Personal Injury Attorney

Time is of the essence in personal injury cases and fair compensation could really improve your situation. Consult with an attorney who will protect your interests. Contact Amourgis & Associates by calling (330) 535-6650 or getting in touch online.

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