In Your Town. On Your Team.

Request Free Consultation

What Is Duty of Care in a Personal Injury Case?

duty of care

If you suffer from a personal injury due to another person’s negligence or deliberate harm, you need to file a claim or lawsuit against them to recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other injury-related damages. 

To prove that another person or party is liable for your injuries, you need to first establish that they owed you a duty of care. Here’s what you need to know about the duty of care definition and how it relates to Kentucky personal injury cases. 

What Is Duty of Care? 

Duty of care refers to the fact that people have a responsibility to behave reasonably in situations that could injure another person through their actions or inaction. 

When it comes to recovering compensation for different types of damages, victims need to establish this first element of negligence, and it applies to different types of personal injury cases. 

Duty of care is often very clear and easy to prove, as is the case with car accidents. Drivers owe a duty of care to others on the road and pedestrians, so if they drive dangerously and cause an accident, they failed to drive reasonably and broke their duty of care to others.

Other times, the duty of care isn’t so obvious. One way in which you can tell whether a person or party owed you a duty of care is whether they should have been able to predict that their actions or inaction could cause harm to you or another person. 

For example, the duty of care applies to premises liability cases, meaning when someone is liable for an injury that a person suffers on their property. If the property owner should have been able to anticipate that a person could sustain injuries due to a hazard, they can be held liable for failing to fix the hazard. Let’s say that you are at a friend’s house, and you fall down their staircase due to a loose floorboard. If you suffered injuries, you may be able to make the case that your friend was aware of the potential hazard and that they didn’t fix it. If they failed to warn you about the hazard, they could be liable for your injuries. 

Examples of Duty of Care in Personal Injury Cases

Duty of care applies to numerous different kinds of personal injury cases including:

  • Car Accidents: Motorists have a duty of care to others on the road, and if they breach their duty and cause an accident, they should be held liable for any resulting injuries. For example, if a person drives while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they broke their duty of care to others. And if they wreck into another vehicle, they will likely be found liable for any victims’ injuries. 
  • Pedestrian Accidents: In addition to motorists, pedestrians also owe a duty of care to others, and they may even be liable if they’re struck by a vehicle. For example, if a pedestrian enters the road suddenly outside of a crosswalk and causes a traffic accident, they broke their duty of care to others and a driver could sustain injuries as a result. 
  • Slip & Fall and Other Premises Liability Accidents: Property owners owe a duty of care to either fix hazards on their property or warn others about said hazards. For example, if grocery store employees fail to leave out a “wet floor” sign after mopping, the store could be found liable if someone slips and falls
  • Medical Malpractice: Doctors and other medical professionals have a duty of care to provide reasonable treatment for their patients. This doesn’t mean that a doctor could be held liable if they make a mistake per se, but if they are negligent and fail to perform their duties reasonably, they could be found liable for a patient’s injuries.
  • Product Liability: If a product causes harm to members of the public, the manufacturer could be liable. For example, the Takata Corporation settled for $52 million for their faulty airbags that caused serious injuries and even 32 deaths. 
  • Dog Bites: A dog owner could be found liable for a victim’s injuries if the animal harms another person. Dog owners owe a duty of care to keep others safe from their pets. 
  • Wrongful Death: If a person’s negligence or deliberate wrongdoing causes a person’s death, the victim’s family can recover damages from the responsible person or party who owed a duty of care to the victim. For example, if a drunk driver kills a pedestrian, the victim’s family can hold them financially responsible in addition to any criminal repercussions the inebriated driver may face. 

Proving Duty of Care Negligence

Establishing a duty of care is the first step in proving that someone is negligent. You must then prove that the defendant or person you’re filing a claim against broke their duty and that you sustained damages as a direct result. 

Let’s return to the drunk driving example. Even if you were injured in a car accident with a drunk driver, you need to provide more proof than the negligent driver’s inebriated state — you must also prove that their breach of duty caused the accident.

If a drunk driver is involved in a wreck, that doesn’t inherently mean the accident was their fault. They could be held criminally accountable for their drinking while not being liable for the wreck in question. You need to provide sufficient proof that the drunk driver caused the wreck through eyewitness testimonies, the accident report, and photographic or video evidence. 

After proving that the drunk driver caused the accident, you would then need to provide sufficient evidence that you suffered damages as a direct result. For example, if you claim that you had medical expenses and were unable to work, you would need to provide evidence that draws a direct connection between the wreck in question and your medical bills. You would also need to prove that your injuries caused temporary or permanent limitations that prohibited you from working. 

For this very reason, it’s crucial to seek medical attention as soon as possible after suffering from a wreck in order to draw a direct link between the accident and your injuries. You can then use your medical bills to provide sufficient evidence that you suffered injuries.

Hiring a personal injury attorney is a critical part of proving your claim or lawsuit. A seasoned personal injury attorney can help you by gathering and presenting evidence against the at-fault party.

Contact a Central Kentucky Personal Injury Attorney

If you suffer from a duty of care personal injury, you need an experienced team of lawyers to help you prove that the negligent party broke their duty of care to you and that you sustained damages as a direct result. 

For expert personal injury lawyers in Central Kentucky, contact the legal team at McCoy & Sparks Attorneys at Law. We’ll help maximize the amount of compensation you can recover for your injuries, which, depending on your case, may include medical bills, lost wages, loss of future earnings, pain and suffering, and more. Call us today at 844-459-9467, or get a free case consultation online here