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What is a Breach of Duty?

What is a Breach of Duty?

The word ‘breach’ refers to the violation of a law or legal responsibility. It is one of the four elements of a negligence suit. In a negligence suit, you must prove another party breached their duty of care and caused your injury.

If someone’s negligence caused you injury, you might be entitled to monetary compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you have legal questions, make sure to speak to an experienced attorney for help.

What is a Duty?

A duty is a legal responsibility that someone has because of their profession, status, or activity. These duties arise from law or custom. 

For example, lawyers and doctors have many professional duties imposed on them by state licensing boards. If a doctor or lawyer breaches their duty to their clients or patients, they could be liable for the victim’s losses. Likewise, all drivers are expected to drive safely and follow all traffic rules. Every licensed driver has a duty of care imposed on them by the state. 

To hold someone liable for your injuries after an accident, you must establish they owed you a duty. If they breached or violated that duty, you might be able to hold them liable for your damages related to an accident.

What is a Breach of Duty?

Once you establish that a negligent party owed you a duty, the next step is to show that they breached that duty. 

To determine whether a defendant breached a duty, a jury will evaluate whether they acted reasonably before injuring the plaintiff. This is known as the “reasonable person standard.”

A jury compares the defendant’s conduct to that of a reasonable person’s in similar circumstances. The reasonable person is a hypothetical person who uses common sense and good judgment to avoid injuring others. If the defendant failed to act like a reasonable person and injured the plaintiff, the jury might find them negligent.

For example, suppose a driver was texting and hits another driver. That driver may have breached their duty of care towards the other driver. A reasonable person would know that texting while driving is dangerous and can cause a car accident. Therefore, a reasonable person would not text while driving.

How a Breach of Duty Works in a Negligence Case

If you file a negligence claim, you will have to prove several factors to be successful. Negligence claims are common in car accident claims, slip and fall claims, and property damage claims.

The elements that must be proven in a negligence case are as follows:

  • The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty
  • The defendant breached their duty
  • The defendant caused harm to the plaintiff
  • The plaintiff suffered damages

Negligence cases require plaintiffs to prove that the defendant caused them injury by acting carelessly.

How a Breach of Duty Occurs in a Strict Liability Case

In some cases, a defendant can be held responsible through strict liability. Strict liability is different from negligence. In fact, it does not require proof of negligence.

Under strict liability, the defendant is automatically liable for engaging in certain conduct or violating certain laws. Strict liability does not require the defendant to have intended the harm. 

Some examples of situations where a breach of duty amounts to strict liability include:

  • Abnormally dangerous activities: A person is strictly liable for injuries caused by abnormally dangerous activities. These activities involve a high degree of risk even when exercising caution and are uncommon in the area where the injury occurs. Explosives are an example of an abnormally dangerous activity.
  • Product liability: Manufacturers and distributors can be strictly liable for injuries that result from design defects, manufacturing defects, or marketing defects in their products.
  • Wild animal harm: If you have a wild animal as a pet, you are strictly liable for any harm that your wild animal causes to anyone.
  • Dog bites: In most states, a dog owner can be held strictly liable when their dog bites another person. In some jurisdictions, the dog must have displayed past vicious tendencies to trigger strict liability.

Some other situations might also give rise to strict liability. 

Contact a Boston Personal Injury Attorney for Help

If you have been injured in an accident, then you probably have a lot of questions. An attorney can help you understand whether someone is liable for your damages after the accident. 

They will walk you through the steps of proving negligence or strict liability. Additionally, they will gather evidence showing another party breached their duty of care and caused you injuries. Contact a personal injury attorney today for help. Call Sweeney Merrigan Law at (617)-391-9001.

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