The legal responsibility one has to provide a measure of protection for another under their prevue, called “duty of care,” often varies based on circumstance. Breach of this duty of care often becomes the basis for a personal injury lawsuit. When a person or a business neglects that responsibility and that results in injury, personal injury liability often follows.
Establishing that duty of care is often quite difficult if the injured party was injured in a place they shouldn’t have been. If a movie theater guest, walking through the aisle of a dark theater where a maintenance engineer’s tool box has been left, injures themselves tripping over the box, the theater owner has breached their duty of care to protect their customers. However, if the same tool box was left in the aisle overnight (for work that was to resume in the early morning hours before the theater would reopen, for instance), and an intruder trips over the box and breaks their wrist, there is no duty of care on the part of the proprietor.
Based on the legal theory of negligence, there is no duty of care established because the injured party had no right to be in the establishment at that time. When there is no duty of care, no negligence can be established. The theory is applied to almost every area of personal injury law.
When a physician, for instance, takes on a new patient, the two enter into an agreement. The patient agrees to treatment by the physician and the physician agrees to treat the patient, setting up a duty of care on the part of the physician. A breach of this duty of care is the basis for medical malpractice. If a patient/physician relationship has not been established, there can be no duty of care, and therefore no negligence can be established.
When a product manufacturer creates a product for commercial sale, it instantly enters into a relationship with its customers. The manufacturer (and any entities responsible for playing a part in the chain of distribution) automatically have a duty of care to protect those customers and users of their product.
When a dog owner invites a guest into their home and their dog is not restrained, they have a distinct duty of care to protect their guest from possible injury. If the dog unexpectedly bites the guest, the owner will likely be found responsible for their injuries because of the breach of their duty of care. If the individual enters the home without invitation, even if by mistake (say, for instance the person is a delivery driver who has entered an unlocked door at the wrong address), the dog owner does not have a duty of care to protect them, and therefore any injuries from an animal attack that results are not likely the responsibility of the homeowner.
This is why it is extremely important to seek counsel from an experienced personal injury attorney when seeking to file an accident claim for damages. Complexities abound in the plethora of scenarios where accidents occur. And when the injured party bears some of the responsibility for their injuries, Modern Comparative Negligence can impact just how much of your overall damages you may be entitled to. Call the offices of Bizzieri Law in Chicago at 773.881.9000 if you would like to speak with an attorney about your case. We will work hard to ensure we recover the highest damage award to which you are entitled.