Most personal injury lawsuits involve allegations of negligence. Generally, negligence is one party’s failure to act reasonably in a specific situation. When a party’s failure to exercise a reasonable level of care results in an injury to another person, the responsible party may be liable for damages caused by the injury. To prove negligence, a plaintiff must demonstrate the existence of four elements. One of these elements is called breach of duty. In this article, we discuss the concept of breach of duty.
The four elements of negligence in Illinois are:
Duty: The plaintiff in a personal injury case first must prove that the defendant had a duty to behave in a certain manner. For example, drivers on the road have a duty to drive responsibly.
Breach: Next, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant in the case breached their duty.
Causation: After demonstrating that the defendant breached their duty to the plaintiff, the plaintiff must show that their injuries were caused by the defendant’s breach.
Damages: Finally, the plaintiff in a personal injury case must prove that they suffered damages as a result of the defendant’s breach of duty.
What is Breach of Duty?
A breach of duty occurs when a person fails to comply with a standard of care. In most personal injury cases that involve ordinary negligence, a party breaches their duty by failing to exercise reasonable care.
How Do You Determine the Standard of Care?
To determine if a breach has occurred, it is first necessary to determine the applicable standard of care. The standard of care in a given case is determined as follows:
Duty based on statutes, regulations, and rules: One way to determine the applicable standard of care in a case is to determine whether statutes, regulations, or rules establish such a standard. For example, a statute may outline the steps a person must take in a specific situation. If a person alleges that a party’s failure to comply with the statute resulted in their injury, then these steps would constitute the standard of care in the case.
Duty based on relationship: Some relationships create a legal duty. For example, teachers have certain obligations to their students, parents have certain obligations to their kids, and medical workers have certain obligations to their patients. In addition, property owners and managers owe certain duties to those who legally enter their properties.
General standard of care: Finally, when a personal injury case based on negligence doesn’t involve a specific standard of care, courts ordinarily apply what is called the reasonable person standard of care. According to this standard, a person must use the same level of reasonable care that a reasonably prudent person would use in a similar situation.
Establishing Breach of Duty
After the duty of care in a personal injury lawsuit has been established, the plaintiff must prove to the court how the defendant breached this duty. A plaintiff does this by demonstrating how the defendant’s actions fell short of the applicable standard of care in the case.
An important question that courts ask when attempting to establish whether a breach of duty occurred is whether the risk of harm to the plaintiff was reasonably foreseeable and whether the defendant failed to take actions to prevent the harm from taking place. Courts may also assess whether there were alternatives available that may have prevented the harm to the plaintiff in the case.
Finally, the court in a personal injury lawsuit in Illinois considers whether these alternatives would have imposed too large a burden on the defendant or made the situation financially infeasible.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you are an accident victim in the state of Illinois, you should enlist the services of an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorney. At the
The Law Offices of Mathys & Schneid we want to put our years of experience helping injury victims and their families to work for you.
When you come to us for assistance with your personal injury case, we will aggressively pursue financial compensation on your behalf. In fact, we have a long track record of successfully recovering compensation for our clients. Please contact us as soon as possible to arrange a free consultation at (630) 428-4040.