What Does “Duty of Care” Mean?

A duty of care is a legal obligation to exhibit a level of care that a reasonable person would exhibit given the circumstances. In tort law, a breach of the duty of care is called “negligence.” When one party’s negligence causes an injury, death, or loss, that party can be held liable for any resulting damages.

The vast majority of paralysis injury claims are filed on the basis of negligence. That means in order to recover damages, your St. Lucie County spinal cord personal injury attorney would have to prove that the defendant owed you a duty of care, breached that duty of care, and the breach of duty was a proximate cause of your injury.

The duty of care can be either express or implied. An express duty of care is established through an action or event, such as the official start of a doctor-patient relationship. In this example, the doctor would owe the patient a duty of care to use the most widely accepted standards of care. That duty, however, does not exist until the doctor-patient relationship is officially established, meaning that getting the wrong advice from a doctor in passing probably would not constitute negligence.

An implied duty of care, on the other hand, exists as a matter of circumstance. When you get behind the wheel of a vehicle, for example, you owe a duty of care to other road users to follow all traffic laws and to drive responsibly. As such, if you suffered a spinal cord injury because you were hit by a drunk driver, proving that a duty of care existed would only require evidence that the defendant was in fact driving the vehicle that hit you.

What Does “Causation” Mean?

You won’t be able to recover damages unless you can prove that the defendant’s misconduct was a proximate cause of your paralysis. This is called proving “causation.” Your St. Lucie County spinal cord personal injury lawyer might use your healthcare records, videos of the accident, the police report, and the deposition of eyewitnesses and expert witnesses to prove causation.

If strict liability applies to your case—for example, if you were injured while using a product that had a manufacturing defect—you wouldn’t need to prove negligence to recover damages; however, you would still need to prove that the defect was a proximate cause of your injury.

What Are Compensatory Damages?

Compensatory damages encompass the objectively verifiable losses (economic damages) as well as the intangible consequences of an injury (non-economic damages). In Florida, victims of spinal cord injury may be able to recover the following compensatory damages with the help of their personal injury attorney:

  • Past and future healthcare expenses;
  • Necessary modifications to the home and/or vehicle;
  • Domestic help;
  • Lost income and loss of earning capacity;
  • Child care;
  • Transportation;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Hedonic damages; and
  • Emotional distress.

The spouse of the plaintiff may be entitled to compensation for loss of consortium, and if the defendant acted with intentional misconduct or gross negligence, then punitive damages—which are distinct from compensatory damages—might be available. Call 772-266-5555 to speak with a personal injury attorney or fill out our Contact Form to schedule a free case evaluation with a truck accident lawyer in Florida.