This article will discuss what is duty of care definition and its impact on our professional and social relationships. The concept of duty of care pertains to the legal responsibility of an individual to take necessary precautions to prevent harm from befalling another person.
The duty of care can arise in a variety of situations. However, it is most commonly associated with relationships between professionals and their clients. These relationships are that of doctors and patients, lawyers and clients, teachers and students, and so on.
However, the duty of care is not absolute. It is not a guarantee that someone will not be harmed. It means that the person who owes the duty of care must take reasonable steps to avoid causing harm.
What is considered reasonable will vary depending on the specific circumstances, but it will generally involve taking steps that a reasonable person would take in the same situation. Hence, if someone breaches their duty of care and causes harm to another person, they may be liable for damages.
In Australia, various jurisdictions can have different legislation governing duty of care. For example, in the Australian Capital Territory, the Civil Law (Wrongs) Act 2002 includes duty of care.
This article will tackle the following:
- the essential points in relation to duty of care definition
- the importance of knowing what is duty of care
- the topic of breach of duty of care.
Importance Of Knowing What is Duty Of Care
Why must we familiarise ourselves with duty of care definition? This is because a breach of duty of care required by law can lead to negligence and damages. In other words, the law of negligence deals with matters related to a breach of duty of care.
When a party breaches duty of care, it means that they have done some action or failed to do some action that has, in turn, caused harm or injury to another person. Moreover, it means that the other party has suffered some kind of loss.
Importantly, the injured party can make a compensation claim if the breaching party caused harm that was “reasonably foreseeable.” This means that a reasonable person in the position of the breaching party would have known the risk of harm or injury.
Have I Breached Duty Of Care?
For many people who are reading up on duty of care definition, the concern about whether they have breached the duty of care may be looming over their heads. In this section, we will discuss certain instances when a party breaches their duty of care.
A breach in duty of care happens in cases if:
- The risk of injury or harm occurring was very clear and obvious;
- A person’s actions or lack of actions have caused harm or injury to another person;
- It was reasonably foreseeable that a person would face some harm or injury because of another person’s actions or lack of actions;
- The action that caused harm or inquiry to another person was unreasonable. Here, unreasonable means that another reasonable person would have acted differently under the same circumstances.
Examples Of Breach Of Duty Of Care
1. Premises Liability
An owner or landlord of a given premise has the moral obligation to conduct regular repairs to ensure that the premise is in good condition.
The landlord or owner has to take reasonable care of the premise to avoid injury or damage to others who use the premise.
Although a landlord is not responsible to ensure the safety of a property at all times, the law requires them to ensure that a premise is always fit to be used for any given purpose.
2. Public places and park injuries: slips and trips
This can include examples like slipping on a wet floor in a shopping mall. The person responsible for making the floor wet should put up a board to warn people that the floor is slippery. In this case, their lack of action (not putting up a board) can cause another person injury.
3. Dog attacks in parks
If a dog attacks and harms another dog or person, the dog’s owner can be liable for damages. Also, the law might require the owner to pay fines and charges.
4. Theme park accidents
People who are maintaining a theme park must repair the premises, all rides, and other equipment. If an individual gets injured at a theme park due to the negligence of others, it is considered a violation of their duty of care.
It’s important to note that in the event of an accident on the premises, an amusement venue operator will only be responsible if they were personally negligent while running the venue.
There are many other examples, including injuries caused by another driver on the road, injuries arising after medical treatment or cure, injuries caused at the workplace, injuries caused in an aircraft, etc.
What is Duty Of Care In Business Law
The duty of care definition under business law or corporate law can differ slightly. In this case, duty of care refers to the duty or fiduciary obligation of company directors to make decisions in good faith and based on a certain standard of care.
Fiduciary duty involves trust, wherein a person acts on behalf of another person by representing their best interests and acting in good faith.
In NSW, Section 19 of the Work, Health and Safety Act (2011) provides for the definition of duty of care. The first point mentioned in the Section is as follows:
- A person conducting a business or undertaking must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of:
(a) workers engaged, or caused to be engaged by the person, and
(b) workers whose activities in carrying out work are influenced or directed by the person
Importance Of Seeking Legal Advice
As mentioned above, if you have suffered harm or injury because of another individual’s action or inaction, you may be eligible for compensation claims.
For a compensation claim to be successful, you need to prove the following things:
- That the individual/company owes you a duty of care;
- There is a breach of the duty of care;
- Such a breach causes injury or harm to another person.
There are strict time limits when it comes to making compensation claims. This is why if such an instance has occurred, you should contact your lawyers as soon as possible.
At JB Solicitors, we have a team of expert lawyers who provide market-leading advice for various legal matters. We can provide clients with an appropriate legal plan of action so they can win their compensation claims.
Contact our friendly team of solicitors for more information.