What Does “Duty of Care” Mean in a Personal Injury Case?

When defining negligence, legal professionals sometimes refer to the negligent actions in a case as a defendant’s violation of their “duty of care.” But what exactly does duty of care mean?

The principle of duty of care can apply to any personal injury case, including in cases of car accidents, wrongful death, and medical malpractice.

The Definition of Duty of Care

Duty of care is defined as every person’s responsibility to act safely in a given situation — an individual’s duty of care can vary depending on what they are currently engaged in.

For example, a person’s duty of care while driving is to follow traffic laws, avoid driving recklessly, and generally drive as safely as possible. We all have a duty to not endanger other drivers while behind the wheel. Any person that ignores this duty and injures another driver could be considered negligent.

The Standard of Care in Medical Malpractice Cases

When a doctor fails to provide a patient with the proper treatment, their oversight could be considered a violation of their duty of care, and therefore, medical malpractice. In a medical setting, the term “duty of care” may be used interchangeably with a similar term: “Standard of care.”

In comparison to the duty of care that other people are expected to adhere to, the medical standard of care is the quality of treatment every medical professional should provide. Following the standard of care essentially means a doctor performed the correct treatment of a patient’s condition and applied typical care — basically, it is doing what doctors are supposed to do. Any deviation from a standard treatment plan that results in injury can be considered as an act of medical malpractice.

Were you injured because of the negligence of another person? Did someone else’s carelessness cause a wrongful death that affected your family? If you have suffered because someone ignored their duty of care, contact Ortega, McGlashan, Hicks & Perez, PLLC today.

To schedule a free initial case evaluation, call (915) 206-5154 or use our contact form to send us a message.