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Duty of Care

In a motor vehicle accident lawsuit where one party is suing another for negligence, part of the process of proving that the defendant is indeed at fault is establishing something called duty of care. In this article, we define this term and explain how it is relevant to motor vehicle accident cases.

Key Takeaways

  • The duty of care is the legal responsibility to behave in a way that protects the safety of others
  • The duty of care requires individuals to take all reasonable steps under a particular set of circumstances to not cause harm to another person or their property
  • To breach one’s duty of care is to be negligent
  • If a party’s negligence leads to injury, loss, and/or suffering to somebody else, that person may be entitled to make a claim for compensation
  • In motor vehicle accidents, the duty of care refers to the responsibility of all drivers to not cause harm to other drivers or vehicles on the road

What Is Duty of Care?

In law, the “duty of care” refers to the legal responsibility of individuals to behave in such a way that protects the safety and well-being of others. This means taking all steps that a reasonable person would take under the given circumstances to not cause harm to another person or their property.

When somebody breaches their duty of care, it is called negligence. Being negligent means doing something, or failing to do something, that results in injury, loss, and/or suffering to another person. 

If a person is negligent, the injured party may be entitled to make a claim for compensation. 

Understanding Duty of Care in Motor Vehicle Accidents

Duty of care plays a big role in motor vehicle accident lawsuits. A plaintiff in a car accident suit, ie the person who is suing the defendant, has the burden of proof to provide evidence that supports their claim. Part of the burden of proof is establishing that the defendant had a duty of care in the case.

When it comes to road laws, it is established that every driver has the duty of care to not cause harm to other drivers and vehicles on the road. This includes taking actions such as:

  • Obeying all rules of the road
  • Paying attention to other motorists
  • Paying attention to and obeying road signs
  • Staying focused on driving
  • Being aware of all vehicles and pedestrians
  • Only driving vehicles that they know to be in a safe condition 

In order to have a valid legal claim, the plaintiff needs to be able to prove that there was a breach of care, meaning that the defendant did not uphold their duty of care. This means showing that the defendant did not behave as a reasonable person would have under the circumstances to avoid causing you harm. 

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