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What is Duty of Care?

Personal injury cases come about when one person’s negligence leads to another person’s injury. In order for someone to be considered negligent, it must first be demonstrated that he or she had a duty to protect the injured party from harm. In legal terms, that duty is called “duty of care.” Determining when someone does and does not have a duty of care can be very complex, but fortunately in Florida we have a variety of case law that can help us assess duty of care in lots of different contexts.

Was the person who caused your injury liable? Are you liable for someone else’s injury? Understanding duty of care can help you answer these questions.

Let’s Be Reasonable

Under Florida law, every person is responsible for acting in a reasonably safe manner towards others. They must do what they can, within reason, to prevent harm from befalling the people they come into contact with. What is “within reason”? Do you need to expose yourself to danger by throwing yourself between a poisonous snake and the person it’s about to bite? No, you don’t have to take action if you see that damage is about to occur or is in the process of occurring. But if you can help without causing harm to yourself or anyone else, you probably should! It can be a very fine line. The best bet is to always do what you can to avoid causing harm to others, while also protecting yourself.

The concept of duty of care is broad, so it can be applied to almost any scenario you can think of occuring. We often hear it discussed in the context of car accidents, so let’s use that as an example. Drivers have a legal obligation, or duty, to abide by traffic laws and act reasonably. If they break traffic laws or behave in an unreasonable manner that harms others (directly or indirectly) they can be held liable for damages. This means that you need to apply logic and reason to what’s happening in front of you. If you have the right of way, but it’s too foggy to see more than a few feet ahead of you, you should probably slow down!

If you’ve been injured and you’re seeking damages, you will need to show that the party you’re suing was negligent. One way to do this is to show that they had a legal obligation to you and instead of protecting you acted against the law or just unreasonably based on the circumstances.

The Foreseeable Zone of Risk

In Florida courts, you’ll often hear discussion of the “foreseeable zone of risk.” In some circumstances, it’s extremely difficult to deny that one would not or should not have known that their actions caused an increased risk of harm. This would mean that the injury was foreseeable. If the person who caused you harm was acting within the foreseeable zone of risk, you have a stronger case for seeking damages.

Who can help?

If you have been injured and you need representation, or if you have questions about duty of care and negligence, the Goss Law team is here to help. While we can take on only the most meritorious cases that come through our door, we are eager to hear every store and can point you in the right direction even if your case isn’t the right fit for our firm. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We look forward to discussing your situation.

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