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Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers > Blog > Personal Injury > Understanding The Duty Of Care In Personal Injury Cases

Understanding The Duty Of Care In Personal Injury Cases


With nearly 350 million people in the United States and counting, it should come as no surprise that we need some basic operating principles to help us all co-exist as smoothly as possible. One of these legal principles is known as the duty of care. Essentially, all residents of the United States have a duty to act in a reasonable manner. This is meant to avoid causing harm to others. For most people, this is the “duty of care” that will be owed in most situations they find themselves in; simply acting in a reasonable manner so as not to cause harm to others. However, depending on the relationship between the two parties, there may be a heightened standard of duty owed. For instance, doctors owe a higher duty of care to their patients and teachers owe a higher duty of care to their students than they would to random strangers on the street. When this duty is breached, however, this is known as negligence, and the negligent individual becomes liable for any harm that occurs as a result.

Determining the Duty of Care Owed

In order to determine whether a duty of care was breached, we must first determine what standard of care was owed. As noted above, the standard of care is determined based on the relationship between the parties. A professional relationship, such as a dentist or doctor and a patient, will have a higher duty of care than your relationship to other drivers on the road, for example. In most situations you are simply expected to act like a reasonable person, for instance, when you drive you have a duty of care to all other drivers on the road to drive like a reasonable person, adhering to all traffic rules, laws, and regulations. The duty is breached if you speed, run a stop sign, or drive under the influence. On the other hand, a doctor is held to a higher standard of care. In order to meet the standard of care owed to their patient, a doctor must provide the same level of treatment that the patient would expect from a reasonably competent physician under the same circumstances.

Determining Whether a Breach of the Duty of Care Occurred

Once you have determined the appropriate standard of care, you must then assess whether a breach occurred. If you move forward with your claim, the question of breach will be one for the judge or jury to decide. However, you will want to present your strongest case in favor of breach, so it’s important to be prepared. In some cases, such as car accidents where one party tested over the legal BAC, a breach will be very obvious. In others, it will be more complicated. For instance, in medical malpractice cases it may be necessary to call an expert or even multiple experts to establish that the actions taken by the doctor would not have been undertaken by another similarly situated physician in the same circumstances.

Talk to Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers

If you have been seriously injured in the Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek, Sandy Springs, or greater Georgia area, Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers are ready to help. Contact our Gwinnett County personal injury lawyers today to schedule your free consultation and find out how we will get you the full amount of compensation and support that you are entitled to.

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