Breach of duty is an important part of every personal injury lawsuit. It’s one of the elements of negligence. And negligence is the basis for most personal injury cases—such as those filed in connection with car accidents, slip and fall accidents, and pedestrian accidents.
Injured victims in Florida may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover money for such things as medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. To succeed in a personal injury case, you must prove each element of negligence.
What Is Breach of Duty?
A breach of duty is exactly what it sounds like: it occurs when the conduct of a party violates some responsibility owed to another party. When violating that duty results in injury, there could be grounds for a personal injury case.
Breach of Duty Is Essential to Proving Negligence
Breach of duty accounts for the first two of four legal “elements” you must prove when asserting negligence and trying to prove a personal injury claim.
Elements are distinct legal aspects of your case—pillars—that, according to law, must be proven for a personal injury claim to survive. If any one element fails, you will lose your claim and your case will be dismissed.
The elements of negligence are:
- Duty: the defendant owed you a duty of care
- Breach: the defendant breached the duty of care
- Causation: the defendant’s conduct directly resulted in your injuries
- Damages: you suffered actual damages as a result of the defendant’s conduct
Proving a breach of duty can get particularly tricky, as duties vary depending on the situation. Complex case law and statutory law affects different aspects of personal injury cases.
Not only that, Florida law is constantly changing, with new case decisions, revisions to statutes, and more occurring every day. If you believe you have a potential personal injury claim, it is important to consult with an experienced, reputable Florida personal injury attorney to help you navigate these laws and to assist you with your case, including proving a breach of duty occurred.
How Do You Prove Breach of Duty in a Personal Injury Case in Florida?
Remember, in a personal injury lawsuit, you’ll need to prove negligence. Negligence is failing to exercise the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised under same or similar circumstances (See Florida Standard Jury Instruction 401.4).
Duty is key to a personal injury case. It’s important to note that you first must establish that the defendant owed you a duty of care in the first place. Without that, you essentially fail to prove that the defendant had any responsibility to you. Without that, you’re not entitled to damages.
Generally, we all owe each other a duty to behave in a way not to cause harm. The specific responsibility may vary depending on the circumstances and your relationship to the defendant. Once you establish that a duty existed, then you must prove that the defendant failed to uphold that duty.
Some things you might use to prove breach of duty in a personal injury case include:
- Your personal testimony describing the defendant’s conduct
- Eyewitness testimony corroborating your story
- Police reports, accident reports, or medical records
- Video footage from traffic cameras, body cams, or security cameras
- Expert testimony describing the duty of care and the reasonable person standard
Proving breach of duty, along with the other essential elements of negligence, can be extremely complex. Every point is a potential battleground in the courtroom.
What Damages Are Available in Personal Injury Cases?
If you successfully prove negligence, you could be entitled to economic and non-economic damages. These will compensate you for losses for your physical injuries, lost wages, and emotional trauma caused by your accident.
Every case is different, but you could be entitled to compensation for:
- Doctor bills
- Hospital stays
- Nursing care
- Medical devices
- Past and future lost of income
- And more
A skilled Florida personal injury lawyer will be able to evaluate your case and give you an idea of what damages you might be able to seek in your case.
Breach of Professional Duties
Some individuals, such as doctors, nurses, lawyers, architects, and more, are bound by professional duties of care. Violations of a professional duty of care could result in malpractice lawsuits.
In a malpractice case, you are asserting professional negligence. The standard of care is generally higher than in a typical negligence case. The “reasonable person” standard in a professional negligence case will be based on other experts in the same field,
This is one of the most complex areas of personal injury law, as duties vary across professions and are impacted by countless statutory and case laws. In addition, there are often multiple parties involved.
In a medical malpractice, for example, potential liable parties could be the doctor, nurses, radiologists, technicians, the hospital itself, and laboratories. Having a lawyer who has experience handling complicated litigation matters is essential to succeeding in these cases.
Notably, there are certain state-imposed deadlines, such as the statute of limitations, that have bearing on your claim. As such, you should not hesitate to act after your accident. Many Florida personal injury attorneys offer free initial consultations. Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers can help advise you on the viability of your claim and how best to proceed. Contact us to schedule a free consultation at (727) 787-2500.