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What is the “Duty of Reasonable Care” of a Property Owner or Automobile Driver in a Personal Injury Case?

Judge's book with a gavel on top on a black backgroundIf you are pursuing a personal injury lawsuit after being injured as the result of someone else’s negligence, a term you will likely learn that the legal duty of the property owner (in the case of a “slip and fall”), or the driver (in the case of an automobile accident) is one of “reasonable care.”

The duty of reasonable care is a key concept when it comes to personal injury cases. It is the breach or failure on the part of a property owner or automobile driver to exercise “reasonable care” that subjects him to liability to another person for injury and damages.

What is the Duty of Reasonable Care?

Within the context of personal injury law, a duty of reasonable care is an individual’s responsibility to behave using an appropriate amount of care so as not to cause harm to others. Put another way, it is the legal responsibility placed upon a person by society to interact with others in a safe and socially acceptable manner in order to avoid causing injury.

Individuals have a legal responsibility to act with a “reasonable” amount of care in order to avoid causing injuries to others at all times. When people fail to fulfill this legal duty, they are considered to be negligent. As a result, they may be liable for any injuries or damages that occur as a result of that negligence.

How is the Duty of Reasonable Care Defined?

This concept is thought of in the law as not defined based upon what one person, whether it be the injured person, or the person who caused the injury, believes is “reasonable.” The concept is based upon the fictitious “reasonable person” standard. Put another way, it is for a jury of six persons (in New York state court), five of which must agree, to apply a standard of what a “reasonable prudent person” would have done by way of exercising “ordinary care” under the same circumstances.

Negligence is essentially a breach in the duty of care owed by one person to another. If an individual fails to use reasonable care under the circumstances by either doing something that he should not have done, or not doing something that he should have done, he is considered to be negligent.

Negligence is a key component of most personal injury cases. While there are other “duties” owed depending upon the type of claim (eg. defective product, worksite accident), in the most common types of lawsuits—the automobile accident and premises liability case, negligence is the key concept. It is for the jury in each case, guided by the instruction given by the trial judge, to decide whether under the specific facts of the case the defendant was negligent and breached his duty of care to the injured plaintiff.

For more information on negligence, please refer to the following articles:

What Constitutes Negligence in a Car Accident?

What is Comparative Fault in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Understanding Duty of Reasonable Care

If you’ve been seriously injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. To protect your rights and obtain the compensation you deserve, you should consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Injured in Albany, Schenectady, Troy, Clifton Park, Saratoga or elsewhere in the Capital Region? If so, turn to the award-winning personal injury attorneys at Anderson, Moschetti & Taffany.

With more than 90 years of combined experience, numerous accolades and honors and past record setting verdicts and settlements, the attorneys at Anderson, Moschetti & Taffany have the legal knowledge and resources necessary successfully handle your personal injury case.

Whether you’ve been injured in a car accident, a slip and fall accident, a construction accident, or another type of incident caused by the negligence of another, we can provide assistance. Our team will guide you through the legal process, help you understand key concepts like duty of reasonable care and negligence, and work hard to ensure you obtain full compensation following your involvement in an accident.

Take the first step towards getting the compensation you deserve. Set up a free case review with us today! Give us a call at (518) 785-4900, or complete our easy online contact form to schedule your free consultation today. There is no obligation.

Related Resources:

What is Liability in a Personal Injury Case? Understanding Fault & Negligence Following an Accident – Liability is very closely associated with the duty of reasonable care. Find out how they impact each other, and how liability might impact your personal injury case.

What is Negligence Per Se? How Does it Affect my Ability to Bring a Lawsuit? – Understand how the duty of reasonable care relates to the concept of negligence per se, and explore how the two might influence the outcome of your case.

Editor’s Note: This content was originally published in 2016 but has been updated as of January 2018.

Jeff Anderson

About Jeff Anderson

As the managing partner at the law firm, Mr. Anderson has over three decades of experience handling personal injury and wrongful death cases and has achieved numerous multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts on behalf of his clients. Read More About Jeffrey Kyle Anderson »