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What Does Breach of Duty Mean?

Many personal injury claims are based on negligence, including motor vehicle accidents, premises liability claims, and wrongful death. Negligence is the failure to act with a certain level of care.

To prove that another’s negligence caused you harm, you must provide evidence that:

  • The party owed you a duty of care
  • The party breached the duty of care
  • The breach of duty caused your injuries
  • You incurred damages

You must prove each element to recover compensation after an accident. The first step in winning the case is proving that the defendant owed you a duty of care.

What is a Duty of Care?

A duty is a legal requirement arising out of law or custom. The relationship between two parties generally establishes the duty of care. In personal injury cases, the duty of care typically involves a party taking reasonable steps to avoid harming others.

For example, a doctor owes patients a duty to provide medical care that meets or exceeds the accepted standard of care. Motorists owe a duty to other people using the road to drive safely and obey traffic laws. Property owners owe a duty to guests and visitors to maintain premises in a safe condition. 

Breaching the Duty of Care 

“Breach” is the second element of negligence. A party breaches its duty of care by failing to act like a “reasonable person” under the circumstances.

A “reasonable person” is a hypothetical standard, not a real person. A jury decides what a “reasonable person” would have done, given the facts and circumstances of the case. If they believe the defendant’s conduct fell short of the standard of care, they may find the defendant liable for damages.

What Else Do I Have to Prove to Recover Compensation for Damages?

Breaching the duty of care is only the second element required for negligence. You must prove that the breach of duty led to your injury.

For example, say a driver exceeds the posted speed limit. They have breached their duty of care because speeding is against the law and increases the risk of a car accident. However, if they did not cause an accident, they are not negligent.

An accident victim must link a party’s breach of duty to the cause of their accident and injuries. For instance, say the speeding driver collided with your car. In this case, you would have to prove their speeding caused your accident.

If you cannot link the driver’s actions to the cause of the car accident, you cannot hold them liable for your damages.

What Compensation Could I Recover for a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

If a jury finds that the defendant was negligent, it can award compensation for damages such as:

  • Past and future medical bills and expenses
  • Past and future lost wages, benefits, and other income
  • Reductions in your future earning potential
  • Expenses for personal care and long-term nursing care
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish and emotional suffering
  • Reduced quality of life and loss of enjoyment of life
  • Permanent impairments, disfigurement, and disabilities 

The amount of your compensation depends on the facts of your case. Severe injuries and permanent impairments generally increase the value of the claim.

What Happens When the Injury Victim Breaches the Duty of Care?

An accident victim can breach their own duty of care and contribute to the cause of the accident. In these cases, Florida’s comparative fault laws could reduce the victim’s damages.

Under comparative fault, an accident victim that did not contribute to an accident can recover up to 100 percent of their damages. However, if the accident victim shares blame for their injuries, their compensation will be reduced by their level of fault. For example, if a jury found that you were 40 percent at fault for the cause of a car accident, you would only be entitled to 60 percent of the value of your damages. 

Sharing responsibility for the cause of your injury could significantly change how much money you can receive for your accident claim. 

Call Our Law Firm for a Free Consultation with a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer

If another party caused your injury, you deserve fair compensation for your damages. However, the insurance company for the at-fault party will fight to pay as little as possible to resolve your claim. Talk with one of our Florida personal injury attorneys at Shaked Law Firm about your case during a free consultation. Call (305) 937-0191 or contact our law office online to get started.