Skip to main content

What is the meaning of the term “duty of care” and why is it important?

The law of negligence refers to a breach of a duty of care. A violation of the duty of care occurs when one party does or fails to do something that may cause injury to another party or cause them to suffer a loss.

The injured party may have a compensation claim if the harm was reasonably foreseeable (that is, a reasonable person in the situation of the person with the duty of care should have known of the danger of injury or harm).

Establishing a Negligence Duty of Care

A person who has a duty of care is accountable for taking reasonable precautions to prevent injury to others. It exists because of the qualities of the parties’ connection. Because of the nature of the parties’ connection, it arises. A duty of care may exist, for example, if one party has a significant amount of control and/or dependence on the conduct of another. In this case, the party with greater control has a responsibility to exercise reasonable caution in their actions so that the reliant party is not harmed. A teacher’s relationship with a pupil, a lawyer’s relationship with a client, and a doctor’s relationship with a patient are all examples. There are a variety of other typical situations that result in a duty of care. These include a driver’s responsibility to other road users, and an employer’s responsibility to keep their workers safe.

Breach of Duty of Care and Standard of Care

If a person owes another a duty of care, a court will establish what those duties are. A professional is subject to the same level as their peers under the Civil Liability Act of 2002. A doctor or an accountant, for example, would be held to the professional standards for doctors and accountants, as well as what is universally acknowledged as competent professional practice.

In other cases, the standard of care is what a “reasonable person” would do in the same situation to minimise the risk of injury. It aids in the balancing of the parties’ rights by taking into account the appropriate amount of care between them. If the standard of care is not fulfilled, the person has failed to fulfil their obligation to the other.

Causation and Damages and Duty of Care

To be able to sue for negligence, a person must establish that they have suffered harm as a result of the other person’s activities. Negligence can result in physical and/or mental harm. The plaintiff has the burden of proving that the defendant’s breach of duty caused the loss. Furthermore, there should not have been a pause in the action. The court will consider whether the person would have been harmed if the other person’s acts had not occurred.

Defences of negligent causes of action

When it comes to defending charges of negligence, the most common issue is determining whether the required elements of negligence have been reached. A defendant might, for example, reject that they owed the plaintiff a duty of care or that the activity they participated in fell short of the standard owed under that duty. Defendants can also argue that the causation is insufficient to show negligence. This defence is particularly useful when a sequence of events is caused by diverse parties and it is unclear whether anyone event caused the damage on its own (e.g. car accidents involving multiple vehicles).

A defendant may also assert a contributory negligence defence if the plaintiff’s own actions contributed to the injury they experienced. If a driver hits a pedestrian with their automobile and injures them, the driver may claim contributory responsibility if the pedestrian was walking on the road while inebriated.

Typical examples of a duty of care breaches

Falling, slipping, and tripping

Anyone can slip, trip, or fall, and most of the time no one else is to blame. However, if you’ve been hurt as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be able to sue for compensation.

If you are injured as a consequence of a slip, trip, or fall, you may be eligible to file a claim for compensation. Some other examples may be:

  • tripping on an uneven and badly maintained pathway or tiled walkway
  • Falling down a flight of damp, slick, and dimly lighted concrete stairs in a hotel
  • In a retail mall, slipping on a damp floor.

Liability for the premises

Landlords and occupiers of premises (those who have control over a premise but are not the owner) have an obligation to maintain and repair the premises in a reasonable manner to avoid injury or damage to people who use them.

A landlord is responsible for ensuring that a property is sufficiently fit for the purpose for which it is used and that it is kept in reasonable condition. A landlord, on the other hand, is not compelled to keep a property in excellent condition at all times.

Dog bites and attacks are common.

If a dog attacks or bites another person or animal, the owner may be charged with a crime and fined. In cases involving prohibited dog breeds or canines that have been previously designated dangerous, the penalties are increased. In extreme situations, a prison sentence of up to ten years may be given if the attack results in a person’s death. If the dog was not with the owner at the time of the attack, both that person and the owner may face charges. Allowing a dog to run at or chase another person is also illegal.

Accidents at theme parks

A person in charge of an entertainment venue or theme park has a responsibility to maintain and repair the premises and equipment in a reasonable manner to avoid incidents that result in injury or damage to persons who visit the venue. However, an entertainment venue operator is not responsible for all incidents that occur on its property. They can only be held responsible for an accident if they were careless.

Aviation mishaps

To achieve the greatest safety standards, the aviation sector is extensively regulated. Aviation law is complicated since it is governed by a number of international accords as well as domestic laws. A commercial air carrier is generally liable for any physical injury sustained by a passenger in an accident that occurs on board the aircraft or during any of the aircraft’s embarking or disembarking procedures.

Other examples: 

  • Injuries that occur on a rented property (for example, the landlord’s obligation to their renter)
  • Animal-related injuries (e.g. dog attacks, horse-riding accidents)
  • Back injuries sustained as a result of a public fall
  • Injuries sustained as a result of another driver’s negligence on the road
  • Injuries sustained at work or in the course of your employment Injuries resulting from medical treatment or care

Making a compensation claim

If you’ve been hurt as a result of a violation of a duty of care statute, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and the impact they’ve had on your life.

Our legal team must prove three things in order for your claim to be successful:

  • That the person or company at fault owed you a duty of care;
  • that the person or corporation breached that duty of care;
  • and that as a result, you were injured or lost money.

Your legal rights

When a person is owed a duty of care and that obligation is breached, the injured person can sue the person who breached the duty of care for damages, which can include:

  • Compensation for pain and suffering, as well as a loss of pleasure of life, resulting from physical, psychological, or both types of injury.
  • Earnings losses in the past
  • Future earnings loss or earnings loss if your ability to work is harmed
  • Medical and related treatment and care costs from the past and future
  • The costs of previous and future care supplied to you by friends and family on a volunteer basis (for example if a family member gives up their time to provide care and assistance to you while you are incapacitated)
  • Damages for the loss of capacity to offer voluntary care to dependent(s) in the past and in the future (for example if your injury prevents you from caring for someone who depends on you)

For negligence lawsuits, there is a time limit.

If you have been harmed as a result of someone else’s negligence, you must act quickly.

When seeking damages for personal injury, section 11 of the Act stipulates that the claim must be filed within three years of the occurrence of the action. If your claim is for damages for personal harm, PIPA imposes additional stringent time limits, and you should get legal advice as soon as possible.

A claim may be statute barred if it is filed outside of the applicable limitation period (i.e. you may be unable to bring a legal claim and seek compensation). Whether you are outside of the statute of limitations, you should consult an attorney to see if there are any exceptions.

What to Do Next

If you have suffered an injury because of someone’s breach of their duty of care, call one of our compensation lawyers at Law By Dan. Our Compensation Lawyers offer a free consultation and No Win, No Fee on all approved matters.