Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers - 450 7th Ave Suite 1605, New York, NY 10123 - Personal Injury Lawyers in NYC

Breach of Duty

Click For Your Free Consulation

Breach of Duty

Breach of DutyEveryone owes a general duty of care to act with reasonable caution to avoid causing another party risk of harm or injury. A “breach” is a failure to perform a required duty or task. 

Duty and breach of duty are two core elements of a negligence claim. Negligence is the basis for many personal injury cases filed in New York. 

What is the Duty of Care in a Negligence Claim?

What is the Duty of Care in a Negligence Claim?The duty of care is the first element you must prove for negligence. It is the requirement to act (or not act) in a certain way as required by law. A duty of care often arises because of the relationship between parties. 

Examples of a duty of care include a doctor-patient relationship or a driver obeying traffic laws. Proving negligence begins with proving that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff. 

What is a Breach of Duty?

A breach of duty is the failure to act in a specific manner. It can be an act or omission that does not meet a reasonable standard of care. 

Examples of a breach of duty may include:

  • A dog owner allowing their pet to run through the neighborhood
  • A physician failing to order diagnostic tests based on a patient’s symptoms
  • Property owners failing to fix broken steps or place warnings of slick walking surfaces
  • Drivers speeding through school zones, texting while driving, or driving after consuming alcohol
  • A drug company failing to warn consumers of potential risks and side effects of taking a medication 

These are just a few examples of ways a party could breach their duty of care. It is best to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer to determine whether someone breached their duty of care when they caused your injury.

How Do You Prove Breach of Duty in a General Negligence Case?

You have the burden of proving the four elements of a negligence case by a preponderance of the evidence:

As discussed above, the first step is to prove that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff. Then, you must convince the jury that the defendant breached the duty of care. 

You begin with establishing what the standard of care would have been in your situation. A jury measures the standard of care by what a reasonable person would have done in a similar situation.

The ”reasonable person” is a hypothetical person. The jury must decide what a person with reasonable prudence would have done if presented with the same circumstances as the defendant. 

For example, would a reasonable person text while driving or drive under the influence, thereby increasing the risk of a car accident? Would a reasonable person clean up a spill on the floor to prevent someone from having a slip and fall accident?

Once the jurors decide what the standard of care would have been in your case, they compare the defendant’s actions to that standard. The defendant breached the duty of care if their actions fell short of the reasonable standard of care. 

However, another consideration is a foreseeable risk. If the defendant could not foresee the risk or had no control over what happened, the jury might not find that the defendant breached the duty of care.

Strict Liability and the Breach of Duty

In some personal injury cases, defendants are held strictly liable for damages, regardless of intent or negligence. Certain conduct makes a defendant strictly liable for damages once the plaintiff establishes that the defendant engaged in the conduct.

Cases that involve strict liability include:

  • Dog owners can be strictly liable for damages their dog causes if it bites someone while being classified as a “dangerous dog”
  • Parties can be held strictly liable when engaging in abnormally dangerous activities that create a foreseeable risk of serious harm, even if the defendant took reasonable care to avoid harm
  • Manufacturers and other parties may be held strictly liable for design, marketing, and manufacturing defects that cause harm

There could be other cases where strict liability applies. It’s important to discuss your situation with a personal injury attorney to determine your legal options. 

Proving the Remaining Elements of Negligence

Breach of duty is just one element of a negligence claim. You also have the burden of proving causation and damages. A person could be negligent because of a breach of duty but not be liable for damages if the plaintiff failed to prove causation.

Causation links the defendant’s conduct and the person’s injury. You must show that the defendant’s conduct was the direct and proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury. In addition, the plaintiff must have sustained damages to recover compensation. 

Contact a New York City Personal Injury Lawyer To Help You With A Negligence Claim 

If another party caused your injuries, contact a New York City personal injury attorney to discuss your case. An experienced attorney will know how to successfully prove all elements of negligence, including breach of duty.  

Money will not undo the pain and suffering you experienced. But it can help you recover from the financial losses as you continue to get your life back together after an accident or injury.

Call Now Button