What Is Breach of Duty?

Breach of duty is the second element of a negligence claim and is often one of the most contested. Negligence is the legal basis used to hold parties liable for damages resulting from their actions or omissions. Proving negligence requires establishing a legal duty of care between you and the person who caused your injury.

Duty of Care and Personal Injury Claims

Before recovering compensation for a personal injury claim, you must prove the elements of negligence. Proving negligence requires you to present evidence that establishes the following elements:

  • Duty of Care 
  • Breach of Duty
  • Causation
  • Damages 

A duty is an obligation created by custom, legal relationships, personal commitment, or a sense of morality. When a person has a legal duty to act, they must use a specific level of care. The duty to act depends on the relationship between the parties.

For example, motorists in Las Vegas have a duty of care to operate their vehicles safely. They have a duty to obey traffic laws and take action to avoid causing car accidents. 

Likewise, property owners have a duty of care to maintain safe premises for guests and invitees to avoid slips and falls. Doctors owe a duty of care to their patients to provide services that meet the acceptable standard of care for a specific situation.

Once you prove a duty of care existed in a negligence case, the next step is to prove the person breached their duty of care. 

How Do You Prove a Defendant Breached the Duty of Care in a Personal Injury Case?

Determining whether a defendant failed to act with the level of care required for a situation can be challenging. As a result, most cases rely on the “reasonable person” standard to prove breach of duty. 

Who is this reasonable person? The “reasonable person” is not an actual individual. Instead, it is a standard that jurors must determine based on the circumstances of the case.

Jurors decide what a person with reasonable prudence would have done in the same situation. Then, they compare the defendant’s conduct to the level of care used by a reasonable person.

For example, jurors might find that a reasonable person would not text and drive because texting while driving can lead to car accidents. Therefore, if the defendant was texting at the time of a truck accident, that could prove that the defendant breached the duty of care. 

The standard of care varies depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. The duty of care can also be different for a child. For example, a child may not be expected to understand the potential risk of harm and the consequences of their actions.

Also, a jury might find a defendant did not breach the duty of care if the defendant could not reasonably foresee the potential risk of harm. A person might not be negligent if the person had no control over the factors that led to the victim’s injuries. 

What Happens After I Prove a Breach of Duty in a Personal Injury Case?

You must prove the final two elements of negligence – causation and damages. 

Causation is the link between the defendant’s conduct and your injuries. In other words, you were injured because the defendant acted in a specific manner or failed to take the required actions. 

Finally, you must prove damages. A defendant could be guilty of breaching their duty of care and causing an accident, but they are not required to compensate you if you did not sustain damages.

Damages in a personal injury case can include physical injuries, economic damages, and non-economic damages. The types of damages injured parties generally recover for personal injury claims include:

  • Medical bills and expenses
  • Past and future lost wages and diminished earning capacity
  • In-home or long-term nursing care
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Mental anguish and emotional distress
  • Personal care and household services
  • Loss of enjoyment of life and diminished quality of life
  • Permanent impairments and disabilities
  • Disfigurement and scarring

The value of your damages depends on the facts of your case. Factors that affect how much your personal injury claim is worth include:

  • The severity of your injuries
  • The parties involved in the case
  • The duration of your recovery
  • Whether you sustained permanent impairments
  • Availability of insurance coverage

The willingness of the insurance company and at-fault party to negotiate in good faith also impacts your case. If the other party refuses to agree to a fair settlement amount, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation for damages. 

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyers

Has someone caused you to sustain injuries? If so, you can recover compensation for your damages. Contact our law firm to schedule a free consultation at (702) 570-9000 with one of our experienced Las Vegas personal injury attorneys.