Navigating the intricacies of personal injury law can be complex. One concept central to any case is “breach of duty.” Understanding and demonstrating this concept can significantly influence the outcome of your case. However, it is not always easy.
In essence, breach of duty is one of the legal elements required to prove negligence, which is the legal theory most personal injury cases are based on. The other three elements are duty of care, causation, and damages.
This article discusses the importance of establishing a breach of duty and its ramifications. Roderick C. Lopez, PC can help you prove a breach in your personal injury case so that you can establish negligence and recover the compensation you need and deserve. Contact us today or call at (956) 529-7336.
What Is Duty of Care?
To appreciate the significance of breaching a duty, you must first recognize what “duty of care” entails. Simply put, “duty of care” refers to the responsibility or obligation one party (the defendant) owes to another (the plaintiff) to prevent harm.
For example, all drivers in Laredo implicitly accept the responsibility to operate their vehicles safely. They owe every other person on our roadways, including drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists, a duty of care to avoid actions that would reasonably result in harm. Another example is a property owner, who is responsible for keeping their property free of dangerous conditions.
Defining Breach of Duty
A breach of duty occurs when the responsible party neglects their obligation. This may occur by taking action or failing to take action.
For example, if a driver chooses to drive under the influence and collides with another vehicle, they have breached their duty of care. If a property owner fails to patch a hole in the floor and a patron falls in, they have also breached their duty of care. The driver and property owner had a duty to behave safely and mitigate dangerous conditions.
How Do I Prove Negligence, Including Breach of Duty?
Successfully proving that a breach of duty occurred is one of the key elements required in establishing negligence liability. The personal injury attorneys at Roderick C. Lopez, PC, can help you establish each piece with objective evidence. The elements of negligence are, as alluded to above:
- Existence of a Duty of Care: You must establish that the defendant owed you a duty of care. For instance, motorists must obey traffic laws and drive safely.
- Breach of Duty: Once established that a duty existed, you must present evidence showing the defendant failed to uphold it. If a restaurant fails to list allergens in its dishes and you suffer a severe allergic reaction, this can point to a breach.
- Factual and Proximate Causation: A direct link must be drawn between the breach of duty and the injury or harm you suffer. You must show that but for the defendant, you were injured. You must also prove proximate cause, which means it is foreseeable the at-fault party’s conduct could lead to the type of accident in question.
- Damages: The actual harm sustained is central to any personal injury claim. You must show the judge or jury that you suffered damages. This can be physical, psychological, or financial (though in many cases, a physical injury is required), but it must be due to the defendant’s actions.
Once you’ve proven each of these elements “by a preponderance of the evidence,” you will be well on your way to obtaining compensation.
What Are Common Scenarios Where a Breach of Duty Occurs?
Breach of duty can manifest in different scenarios. Some common examples in Laredo, Texas, include:
- Car Accidents: Drivers have a duty to obey traffic laws and driver responsibility. When they do not, costly accidents result. There were 15,299 serious injury crashes in Texas in 2022, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.
- Slip and Fall Accidents: Property owners or managers must maintain an environment that is safe from hazards. If you trip or slip over a hazard that should have been addressed, the owner may have breached their duty.
- Medical Malpractice: Healthcare providers are held to a standard wherein they must provide competent care to you. From surgical mistakes to incorrect treatment plans, any deviation of care that leads to harm may be seen as a breach of a provider’s professional duty.
- Product Liability: When you purchase products, the product is expected to not cause harm when it is used as intended. Manufacturers who create products with design flaws, manufacturing errors, or improper warnings may breach their duty to consumers.
- Workplace Accidents: Employers owe employees a duty of care to maintain safe working conditions. If you get injured due to inadequate safety measures or job training, your employer may be found liable for a breach of duty.
Our personal injury attorney at Roderick C. Lopez, PC represents victims of negligence in these cases every day.
Why Is It Important To Establish Breach of Duty?
Identifying a breach of duty is important for the viability of your personal injury claim. Breach of duty forms the foundation for seeking compensation.
It helps determine how much goes into your pocket for medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress, and other damages. It also keeps individuals accountable for their actions and helps shape the legal landscape.
How Long Do I Have To File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
The personal injury statute of limitations is generally two years in Texas. This means you have two years from the accident date to file a lawsuit against the person or entity responsible for your injury.
There are exceptions in some cases, so it is best to confirm the particular deadline for your case with an attorney.
Contact a Laredo, TX Personal Injury Lawyer
Breach of duty in personal injury law is more than just a legal term — it is the focal point for justice. For victims, establishing a breach is the gateway to obtaining compensation for injuries, small or large.
An experienced lawyer can work with you to evaluate your case and establish the elements of a breach. Consult with our trusted Laredo personal injury attorney at Roderick C. Lopez, PC, for a free initial consultation.