Breach of Duty
Breach of duty is one of the legal elements you must prove to hold another party liable for damages in a personal injury case. Failing to act with reasonable care or meet an applicable standard of care can result in a breach of duty.
In addition to breach of duty, you must prove a legal duty existed, causation, and damages. If you cannot prove all four elements, the party who caused your injuries might not be held legally liable for your damages.
Proving Breach of Duty by Using the Reasonable Person Standard
Most personal injury cases rely on the reasonable person standard to determine if a breach of duty occurred. This standard of care applies in most premises liability claims, car accidents, and other similar personal injury cases.
Jurors decide what standard of care should have been used in a situation by determining what a reasonably prudent person would have done given the same circumstances. The standard of care may change based on the facts of a case. If the defendant’s (at-fault party) conduct did not meet the reasonable person standard, the jurors could decide that the defendant was negligent.
For example, suppose a driver caused a car accident. The jurors must determine whether the driver breached their duty of care.
All motorists have a duty to act reasonably to avoid accidents and follow traffic laws. If a driver was drunk, texting while driving, or driving at excessive speeds, the jurors might determine they breached the duty of care. The jurors must first determine that a reasonable person would not engage in these acts because it places others at risk of injury.
Many personal injury cases are settled after private negotiations or mediation. The at-fault party usually agrees to pay damages without admitting fault. If the case goes to trial, the injured party has the burden of proving a breach of duty and the other legal elements of the case by a preponderance of the evidence.
The Standard of Care in a Medical Malpractice Claim
Medical providers are held to a higher standard of care. Colorado law requires healthcare providers to use the same level of care that a reasonably prudent medical provider of similar training and experience would use in the same situation.
Therefore, medical experts must establish the professional standard of care applied in a specific situation. The expert also testifies how the doctor’s conduct deviated from the accepted medical standard of care.
As with a general negligence claim, the injured party must also prove the doctor’s conduct caused their injury and that they sustained damages because of the breach of duty. Proving a doctor did not meet the medical standard of care is only one element of a medical malpractice case.
The Standard of Care and Strict Liability
Strict liability cases are slightly different from negligence claims. You do not need to prove the party failed to act with reasonable care. They can be held liable for damages even though they acted reasonably.
Many product liability cases are based on strict liability. All you need to do is prove a product was defective and the defect caused your injuries and damages. You do not need to prove that the manufacturer acted unreasonably to recover damages.
Colorado dog bite laws hold dog owners strictly liable for damages their dog causes. The dog owner might have acted reasonably to prevent a dog bite and had no prior knowledge that their dog was vicious or might bite someone. Even so, the dog owner could be held strictly liable for damages in a dog bite claim.
Even though strict liability applies, there could be defenses available. For example, you were using the product in a manner inconsistent with the product’s purpose, or you intentionally provoked a dog.
Proving Breach of Duty in a Denver Personal Injury Case
A Denver personal injury lawyer gathers evidence to build a case of fault and liability against the person who caused your injury. Many types of evidence can be used to prove breach of duty for a personal injury claim, including:
- Accident reports
- Eyewitness testimony
- Statements from the parties involved
- Reports from expert witnesses, including accident reconstructionists and medical specialists
- Video from traffic cameras, dash cams, surveillance cameras, and other sources
- Data collected from vehicle recording devices
- Physical evidence from the accident scene
Attorneys have the resources to perform a comprehensive investigation to gather and preserve evidence. The sooner you hire an attorney, the better chance you have of recovering evidence that helps prove you are entitled to compensation for your economic damages and non-economic damages.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Denver Personal Injury Lawyers
Our lawyers at Zaner Harden Law have extensive experience representing injured victims. We understand the evidence needed to prove breach of duty and the legal elements required to prove liability for an injury claim.
Call our law firm to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced Denver personal injury attorney to discuss how we can help you receive the compensation you deserve.