January 11, 2023

What Is Breach of Duty and How Does it Apply to a Personal Injury Case?

By Jonathan Damashek

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When you’ve suffered critical injuries or illness because of someone else’s negligent actions, you may have the right to compensation for your damages. However, for your lawsuit to be successful, your personal injury attorney must show that the elements of negligence have been met.

One of these elements is known as the breach of duty. Understanding what breach of duty is and how it could impact your personal injury claim is essential if you hope to build a strong case against the at-fault party.

What Is Duty of Care in Negligence Cases?

Duty of care means you must behave and make decisions that involve taking reasonable care to ensure someone else does not suffer injury or illness due to your conduct. For instance, all drivers owe other motorists and passengers on the roadways a duty of care and must uphold this duty by adhering to state and federal traffic laws and driving their vehicles safely.

In a personal injury claim, your attorney will be responsible for proving that the person accused of causing your injuries owed you a duty of care. Once we have established the defendant owed you a duty of care, the next step will be to prove that there was a breach of this obligation.

What Does Breach of Duty Mean?

A breach in the duty of care refers to a defendant’s failure to act as another reasonable person would have if they were in the same situation. As you can imagine, what one person may consider reasonable, another may not. Since this is subjective, proving a breach of the duty of care can be challenging without solid evidence to support your case.

Examples of Breach of Duty in Personal Injury Cases

Here are a few examples of a breach in the duty of care in various types of personal injury accidents and claims:

  • A contractor fails to provide construction workers with the materials and equipment needed to perform their jobs safely
  • A driver gets behind the wheel under the influence of drugs or alcohol and causes a collision
  • A driver is texting while driving and strikes a pedestrian crossing a crosswalk
  • A driver is rushing to get home from work one day and cuts off a bicyclist who crashed into the vehicle and suffers critical injuries

In many personal injury claims, one of the only ways an injury victim can recover the compensation they are entitled to is by proving that the defendant breached their duty of care. Only if the defendant failed to uphold this obligation can they be compelled to cover your damages.

How Does Breach of Duty Factor into Negligence?

To determine if a breach of duty exists, the courts will decide whether the reasonable person standard has been met. If a reasonable person would not have made the same actions as the defendant did in your case, this may be considered a breach of the duty of care.

Only when a defendant breaches their duty of care are their actions considered negligence. Multiple factors may be considered when determining whether an individual’s conduct may be considered negligent. Such factors could include the following:

  • Whether the defendant could have foreseen potential harm
  • How severe the victim’s injuries or damages could have been
  • The relationship of cause and effect in your case
  • The potential costs of the defendant making a different decision

Other Elements of Negligence Claims

Since your personal injury attorney will be required to prove negligence in your case, it is important to understand each element. You know about the duty of care and the breach of the duty of care. But you also need to be aware of causation and damages.

Causation refers to the defendant’s breach in the duty of care directly or indirectly causing your injuries or damages. For example, if you were involved in a collision with a drunk driver, the drunk driver swerving to hit you due to their impairment may very well cause your car accident.

Your attorney will also need to show that you have suffered damages in relation to the defendant’s breach of their duty of care. You have the right to be compensated for economic and non-economic damages, effectively being repaired for every loss. Your attorney can help quantify your damages to ensure you are seeking the max.

Your New York personal injury attorney will need to carefully analyze the circumstances of your case to prove each of these elements for your personal injury lawsuit to be successful.

Contact a New York Personal Injury Lawyer for Help Today

Proving negligence and liability is critical if you hope to maximize your compensation. For this reason, obtaining an experienced New York personal injury attorney to help you fight for your rights and establish a compelling case against the defendant may be in your best interests.

Find out more about whether the elements of negligence have been met in your case when you contact Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek, P.C. for a no-cost, risk-free consultation. You can get started on your personal injury claim as soon as today by calling our office at 212-490-5700 or filling out our online contact form.