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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger

What Is "Duty of Care" in Personal Injury Law?

Personal injury claims have a series of principles and quirks that come together to determine how they are processed and addressed. Once a foreseeable injury occurs, some questions will come up surrounding negligent behavior and "duty of care." These will help to determine fault, which means it's a good idea to understand how they fit into an accident scenario.


First, everyone has a duty to be a reasonable person. Acting with reasonable care is simply going about things in such a way that demonstrates awareness and avoidance of injuring other people. This is a legal duty and should anyone fail to meet it, then they may be liable for the injuries that they cause. This is the core of personal injury lawsuits.


Holding Someone Accountable for Breached Duty of Care

Holding Someone Accountable for Breached Duty of Care


A negligent person can be said to have breached his or her duty of care in the confines of a civil lawsuit that will be filed by the victim. If the injured person is supposed to be successful at such an endeavor, then there will need to be proof of what was alleged by being able to demonstrate four key elements:

  1. The reasonable person standard (duty of care) exists

  2. The defendant's breach of said duty

  3. Damages incurred

  4. Causation

The use of the term "negligence" in personal injury cases simply means that the duty of care was breached. Should the plaintiff be able to prove that the defendant owed a duty of care in the first place and failed to act as expected, then there needs to be proof that harm was suffered and the fact that it was a direct result of the breach.


An Example of How This Creates a Personal Injury Case


Imagine that a woman named Daisy drives her private vehicle to work daily. One day, she was driving and texting, which led her to run a red light because she was distracted. In doing so, she ended up hitting John's car while going through the intersection. John was proceeding in a perpendicular direction at the time of the accident as he was proceeding through a green light.


When John's car was hit he suffered whiplash and a broken arm. John happens to be a bricklayer, which means he won't be able to do his job with such an injury.


John will need to prove the legal obligation that the law imposes on Daisy, which is fairly easy since traffic laws will tell you that every driver has a duty of care to avoid hurting others when they use the road.


The next step is for John to prove that Daisy breached the duty of care. Daisy ran a red light, and the fact that she was on her phone when it happened is greater evidence that she breached her responsibility to act reasonably on the road.


Third, John needs to demonstrate that he was harmed. To do this, John can use his medical bills and report that will demonstrate his arm is legitimately broken. Additionally, he can show proof of employment and get his employer to establish the amount of earnings he is missing out on by not being able to work as expected.


Finally, John needs to prove that the accident was the cause of what he is now suffering. Put simply, would he have a broken arm if Daisy hadn't hit him? Was there something else that contributed to the injury that was outside of Daisy's negligence?


In this case, John can show that Daisy was at fault for what happened to him.


Other Legal Elements That Affect a Personal Injury Claim


Most personal injury cases will be settled without the need for a trial. However, it has to get to a stage of negotiation first and this will come from the filing of a personal injury claim.


One of the key elements here to bear in mind is the statute of limitations. In Texas, the statute of limitations for most personal injury claims is two years, meaning after this time, you will have lost the right to recover compensation unless there are very specific circumstances.


There is also the question of how comparative negligence fits into the equation. Texas is what you call a "modified" comparative negligence state. This means that you are still allowed to sue for damages even if you are partially at fault, but your compensation will likely be reduced. However, should your fault in the matter exceed 50%, then you will not be able to recover anything.


What Makes Duty of Care Important?


Duty of care is vital because it's the basis of evaluating the extent to which a defendant is liable for the injuries and other negative implications of an accident on a plaintiff.


Beyond that, it's also a determinant of compensation. From medical expenses, to lost wages, to pain and suffering, and more, these will all be assessed based on the extent to which the breach of duty led to the current situation the plaintiff now faces.


Why Would You Need the Assistance of a Personal Injury Lawyer?


While duty of care may seem like a simple principle to explain, navigating it with a strong case and the necessary proof is not as straightforward as you may think, especially in the face of insurance companies that would do anything to avoid paying a suffering victim.


A personal injury lawyer in Dallas acts as your representative during negotiations and even at trial if necessary to navigate the legal landscape and help you get the best possible results.


What Kinds of Standards Should Your Selected Attorney Meet?


You want an attorney who is experienced in the world of personal law, communicates well, has good reviews, and makes you feel comfortable as early as the initial consultation. That can also explain what qualifies as a personal injury lawsuit.


How Long After an Incident Should You Call a Personal Injury Lawyer?

How Long After an Incident Should You Call a Personal Injury Lawyer?


It's in your best interest to call a personal injury attorney as soon as possible so it's easier to gather evidence and you can get advice on what to do to preserve the strength of your case. Someone who can give more information on assumption of risk in a personal injury case.


Schedule a Free Consultation with a Qualified Dallas Personal Injury Lawyer Today!


Establishing duty of care is that much easier to do with the support of a professional. If you've been injured by a negligent party, schedule a free case evaluation with Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys today!

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