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What Is Breach of Duty?

Published on Mar 17, 2023 by Thomas Law Offices.

What Is Breach of Duty
In almost every facet of our daily lives, we encounter situations in which one individual owes a duty of care to another. When someone violates their duty of care, it is considered a breach. This breach does not always cause harm, but when it does, the victim may deal with extensive injuries, costly medical bills, and shrinking finances if they cannot work.

To better understand the above outcomes, we must first answer the following questions: What is a duty of care? and, What is breach of duty?

If you have any additional questions about how these legal concepts relate to your personal injury case or would like to learn more about securing compensation for preventable damages, we urge you to contact Thomas Law Offices as soon as possible. We’ll schedule you for a completely free consultation at your earliest convenience.

What Is a Duty of Care?

Under Illinois civil law, duty of care is the legal obligation imposed on an individual to act in a way that prevents causing harm to others. The specific actions contained within this duty of care will vary depending on the setting and the role of the individual. The duty of care for a driver behind the wheel of a vehicle will differ from the duty of care that a doctor must adhere to while treating patients.

However, the ultimate goal of these two duties of care is ultimately the same: to minimize the risk of harm by acting in a manner that prioritizes the safety and well-being of others.

A Driver’s Duty of Care

We trust that we can safely traverse Illinois while sharing the road with other drivers. Every driver in Chicago, Oak Park, Evanston, Lyons, and throughout the rest of the state has a duty of care to drive safely by:

  • Following all traffic laws
  • Maintaining a safe speed and following distance
  • Taking weather and driving conditions into account

Remaining sober and being alert and aware of surroundings are also important components of being a safe driver who upholds the duty of care.

An unsafe driver who has breached their duty of care might be observed:

  • Failing to stop at red lights or stop signs
  • Following too closely (tailgating)
  • Speeding or driving too fast for the conditions
  • Swerving in and out of traffic
  • Yelling or gesturing at other drivers
  • Tapping the brakes unexpectedly (brake checking)

When a driver chooses to negligently engage in reckless, aggressive, or wrongful behavior and causes an accident, they have breached the duty of care. In most car accident cases, this breach forms the foundation of a successful insurance claim. As experienced car accident attorneys, Thomas Law Offices is uniquely positioned to guide Chicago residents through the process of recovering compensation for their crash injuries.

A Doctor’s Duty of Care

Our health and well-being are often in the hands of medical professionals. When we seek medical care, we trust doctors to provide thoughtful, timely treatment. As cited by a study published by the National Study of Medicine, physicians have a legal obligation “to provide a certain standard of skill and care to their existing patients,” which is created when they agree to provide treatment to a patient who has requested their services.

The specific actions addressed by the duty of care are not static, meaning that a doctor may be expected to behave differently depending on the situation. A duty of care is set by answering the question, What would a reasonable physician do under similar circumstances?

In the course of treating a patient and upholding their duty of care, a physician may:

  • Order tests
  • Refer patients to specialists
  • Prescribe medications
  • Recommend therapy
  • Perform surgery

Determining whether a doctor breached their duty of care is a complex process. If you’ve been injured by a doctor’s negligence, you may struggle to identify the exact point at which your care deviated from the accepted standard.

At Thomas Law Offices, our medical malpractice attorneys have the experience and knowledge necessary to successfully determine what a doctor’s duty of care was and the manner in which they breached it. When necessary, we also partner with medical experts who are willing to aid in our investigations and to testify on behalf of our clients.

A Property Owner’s Duty of Care

In Illinois, property owners have a legal responsibility to maintain reasonably safe premises that are free from dangerous conditions. When a property owner cannot immediately rectify a dangerous condition, they must cordon off the area and do their best to warn visitors about the threat of harm. When an area or condition of a property is simply dangerous by nature (such as a swimming pool), an owner must make their best effort to make the area as safe and secure as possible.

Additionally, a property owner’s legal duty of care will vary depending on the type of visitor on the property. In descending order, property owners owe the following individuals a duty of care:

  • Invitees
  • Licensees
  • Trespassers

Trespassers are owed the lowest level of duty of care, as Illinois state law only requires property owners to abstain from causing willful and wanton harm to these individuals. It is not uncommon for a property owner to argue that a person injured on their premises was there without permission, making them a trespasser and, therefore, ineligible for compensation.

Thomas Law Offices doesn’t let negligent property owners and their insurers deny compensation to those who have been unjustly hurt. If you were injured in a slip and fall or by a dangerous condition on someone else’s property, contact us today to preserve your legal rights.

What Is a Breach of Duty of Care?

Any time that a driver, doctor, property owner, or other person owes someone a duty of care that they fail to uphold, it is considered a breach of the duty of care. This breach can have profound consequences for those affected.

Legal Action To Take After a Breach of Duty

Whether injured in a car accident, by a surgical error, or in a slip and fall accident, the injury attorneys of Thomas Law Offices frequently work with clients who are dealing with:

  • Profound physical injuries
  • Permanent disabilities
  • Mental anguish and mental health problems
  • Lost wages from missed time at work
  • Medical bills from ambulance rides, doctor’s visits, medications, surgeries, and more

Recovering compensation for these economic (financial) and non-economic (non-financial) damages is a vital component of making the fullest possible recovery. Filing a civil claim against the at-fault party is typically the most effective method for recouping these lost costs and addressing your non-monetary damages.

Depending on the situation, you may need to file a car accident claim, medical malpractice claim, premises liability claim, or another type of personal injury claim. Most personal injury cases in Illinois have a two-year statute of limitations, which is the time limit to take legal action.

Two years may seem like a long time, but when you are actively dealing with physical and mental injuries, missing paychecks, and watching bills pile up, it becomes a very short period to meet with an attorney, build a case, and file your claim.

Meet With a Personal Injury Attorney From Thomas Law Offices Today

When you file a personal injury claim, the at-fault party’s insurer will do everything in their power to deny liability and limit your right to compensation. Thomas Law Offices doesn’t let that happen.

We want your claim to have the best possible chance of success. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can begin working on your case. Our first meeting is always free, and our Chicago personal injury attorneys are proud to take most cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t owe us anything unless we win your case.

Free Case Evaluation

At Thomas Law Offices, our personal injury attorneys recognize that our potential clients are likely going through some of the most difficult times of their lives. We don't want you to have to worry about paying out of pocket for legal advice when you're just starting to learn your legal rights and options. That's why we provide free case evaluations. We'll offer our expert advice about your potential case and walk you through how we can help you.

Call us or fill out the form below to tell us about your potential case and a personal injury lawyer will get back to you as quickly as possible.

Meet Our Founder

Tad Thomas - Trial Lawyer

Tad Thomas

Managing Partner

Tad Thomas has dedicated his practice to representing plaintiffs in various types of civil litigation, including personal injury, business litigation, class actions, and multi-district litigation.

After graduating with his law degree in 2000 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, Mr. Thomas immediately opened his own private practice and began representing injury victims.

In 2011, Thomas Law Offices was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past decade, Mr. Thomas has expanded his firm and now has offices in three additional locations: Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics like trial skills and ethics and technology.

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