Understanding the concepts of negligence and duty of care is vital to a successful personal injury claim. However, there is a bit of confusion in the general public about what exactly negligence means and how you can prove that someone else’s negligence caused your injuries. In the context of the law, negligence refers to an act of carelessness or careless inaction which causes someone damages. Damages can include things like medical bills for injuries, lost wages at work, and pain and suffering. Negligence occurs when a person had a duty of care to act responsibly but did not do so.
Breach of a Duty of Care
You may have seen the term “duty of care” in other information about personal injury lawsuits but been unsure of when someone has a duty of care to others and when they do not. Duty of care can be loosely defined as a requirement that an individual behave toward others with the attention, responsiveness, caution, and forethought that a “reasonable” person in the same circumstances would use. The word “reasonable” in this context means a person with average intelligence, insight, and decision-making skills. The first step in any personal injury claim is identifying the duty of care the negligent person had to the injured person—also called the plaintiff—and how that duty was breached or broken.
Examples of People With a Duty of Care
A physician has a duty of care to his or her patients to treat their illnesses in the most effective and safe way possible. For example, if a doctor with years of training and experience carelessly misses an important heart defect diagnosis in a patient and that patient has a medical complication as a result, that doctor may be considered negligent. If another reasonable doctor with similar training and experience would have acted a different way with regard to the heart defect, the doctor who took no action may be considered in breach of his or her duty to the patient. This situation could result in a successful medical malpractice suit.
You do not have to have letters behind your name to have a duty of care to others. Anyone who drives a car has a duty of care to the other motorists and passengers on the road. This duty is to act responsibly and to drive in a way that decreases the chances of others being hurt or killed. This includes adjusting the way you drive based on road conditions, weather, or other unexpected hazards. In a slip and fall personal injury claim, a property or business owner has a legal obligation or duty to keep the property as free from danger as possible. The property owner has a responsibility to act within a reasonable time to notice and remedy hazards on his or her property.
Powerful Legal Guidance for Victims of Personal Injury in Illinois
If you have been hurt due to someone else’s negligence, a knowledgeable Wheaton personal injury attorney can help you recover compensation for damages. To schedule your free initial confidential consultation at Walsh, Knippen & Cetina, Chartered, call 630-462-1980.