Breach of duty is one of the elements you must show in your personal injury case.
A breach of duty occurs when a person’s conduct fails to meet the applicable standard of care.
In addition to breach of duty, you must also show three other elements:
- The existence of a duty
Each element is critical to the success of your case. Different legal standards may apply, depending on the type of injury and the unique facts of your case.
The Reasonable Person Standard
The reasonable person standard is the standard of care most commonly used in negligence cases. This standard will apply to most car accidents, slip and fall accidents, or other similar injuries.
To meet this standard, a person must act as a reasonable person under the circumstances. A failure to meet this standard is a breach of duty. The reasonable person standard is applied on a case-by-case basis. It is not a real person, rather it is a hypothetical person who acts reasonably to avoid harming other people.
It is a question of fact, so the jury will ultimately decide whether a person meets this standard in a particular case.
For example, when driving, a reasonable person should obey traffic laws and pay attention to the road. Some examples of conduct that may violate the reasonable person standard include:
- Texting while driving
- Failing to properly maintain your vehicle
- Drinking and driving
- Failing to clean up a spill or other dangerous condition on your property
If there is clear evidence that the other party acted negligently, you may not need to take your case to court. You may be able to negotiate a fair settlement that compensates you for all of your economic and non-economic damages.
The Professional Standard of Care
Professionals may be held to a higher standard when they are performing their professional duties. For example, Florida law requires that healthcare providers use the level of skill, care and treatment that is appropriate for a reasonably prudent healthcare provider.
In these cases, expert testimony is often needed to describe how a reasonable doctor or healthcare professional should have acted under the circumstances. If a healthcare professional did not follow commonly accepted medical guidelines or failed to apply them properly, they may have violated the professional standard of care.
Professionals are held to this higher standard because they have specialized training and licensure. We trust them to handle critical problems, so the law requires them to act according to an elevated standard of care.
The Strict Liability Standard
Sometimes a breach of duty is not needed as part of your legal claim. These cases follow a strict liability standard.
The strict liability standard may impose liability even when the other party acted reasonably. It only matters that the party engaged in certain prohibited conduct. This standard is used only in special situations, such as defective product cases and injuries caused by abnormally dangerous activities.
Strict liability is also imposed for dog bite injuries under Florida’s dog bite law. Even if the dog’s owner used a leash and had no prior knowledge of the dog’s viciousness, they may still be responsible for injuries if the dog bites a person.
Legal defenses may still be available under the strict liability standard. For example, if you were trespassing on the dog owner’s property or provoking the animal, you may not be able to recover compensation for your injuries.
How to Prove Breach of Duty
Many types of evidence can be used to prove a breach of duty. You could show that the other party breach their duty to you in any of the following ways:
- Provide photos of damage to your vehicle showing that you were rear-ended
- Have an eyewitness testify that the other driver was speeding or ran a red light
- Show video footage that a store owner failed to correct a dangerous condition on their property that caused your injuries
- Get expert testimony from a doctor stating that your doctor’s diagnosis or treatment did not meet the standards of the medical community
Use all of the evidence at your disposal to show that the person who caused your injuries was acting unreasonably. You want to give the jury a clear picture of what happened so that they’ll be more likely to find that a breach of duty did occur.
In addition to breach of duty, you’ll also need to show that the negligent person’s actions caused your injuries and that you suffered damages. These elements may require different types of evidence, such as proof of expenses paid or time missed at work.
Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer
Personal injury lawyers have experience seeing a lot of cases go through the court system. They understand what legal duties will apply to your case and what kinds of evidence you’ll need to show that a breach of duty took place.
Contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss the specifics of your case. Request a free consultation and get professional advice about how to seek compensation for your injuries.