Many personal injury claims and lawsuits are founded on three concepts: negligence, duty of care, and breach of duty. Generally speaking, an individual commits negligence when he/she fails to act in with due regard for the health and safety of others. For instance, a driver might be considered negligent for talking on the phone or texting behind the wheel. In order to file a successful negligence lawsuit, you must be able to demonstrate that the defendant committed an act of negligence. Negligence can also refer to a person who fails to act, resulting in an injury or death.
“Duty of care” refers to the plaintiff-client relationship. Was the defendant responsible for the plaintiff’s health? Did the plaintiff-defendant relationship imply any responsibility between the parties? These questions involve the defendant’s duty of care. Duty of care often refers to the relationship that medical professionals share with their patients. Doctors, nurses, surgeons, and pharmacist are responsible to provide care for the sick and injured. If a medical professional fails to provide care, he/she could be responsible for any illness or injury that the patient suffers.
Similarly, a hospital owes patients duty of care as well. While doctors are responsible to provide their patients with skilled a diligent medical treatment, the hospital carries the responsibility of hiring competent staff. If the hospital staff is under qualified, the hospital could be held responsible for any damages caused by an incompetent nurse, doctor, surgeon, or other employee. In this situation, a patient could collect financial compensation for his/her suffering by demonstrating that the hospital owed duty of care and breached this duty.
Duty of care does not exclusively refer to medical malpractice claims. According to common law, anyone can owe duty of care while executing an act that might place another person in danger. In other words, duty of care is a circumstantial, legal obligation held by a person whose actions could cause foreseeable harm to someone else. In a negligence case, the plaintiff must demonstrate a close connection between his/her injury or illness and the actions of the defendant. Further, the plaintiff must show that the defendant’s actions placed the plaintiff in foreseeable danger.
The term “breach of duty” is a common phrase in personal injury law and refers to an individual who fails to provide duty of care. If the court determines that the defendant owed duty of care, the plaintiff must be able to show that the defendant breached his/her duty. Like any other negligence case, the defendant breaches duty of care when he/she acts unreasonably. If the defendant exercised the same amount of caution that a rational person would, the court may not find him/her liable for the defendant’s injury.
A variety of factors determine whether or not the defendant breached duty of care:
In order to prove negligence, you must be able to demonstrate that the defendant caused or contributed to your accident and injury. If you are unable to establish causation, you may not be able to collect financial compensation for your damages. Once the plaintiff demonstrates that the defendant acted negligently, he/she must draw a connection between the defendant’s negligence and the injury. Negligence alone is not enough to establish a successful personal injury case. If you would have suffered an injury regardless of the plaintiff’s actions, you may not have a realistic case for negligence or breach of duty. This element is often called “but-for” causation. In other words: But-for the actions of the defendant, plaintiff would not have suffered the injury. Without “but-for” causation, it may be difficult to establish breach of duty.
If you suffered an avoidable personal injury, you may be entitled to financial compensation through a negligence lawsuit. Our firm has more than 75 combined years of experience in the legal field. Let us use our understanding of personal injury law to help you recover the financial compensation that you deserve. To see what Hecht Kleeger & Damashek, P.C., can do for your case, contact us today. With the right New York City negligence attorney on your side, you can have peace of mind that a skilled legal professional will help you through every step of the legal process.