If you ask a solicitor to represent you in a personal injury claim, the first thing they’ll probably check is whether the defendant owed you a ‘duty of care’. This is where an organisation, company or
individual is legally obliged to try and protect the well-being of others. In this guide, we’ll answer the question, “what is duty of care?” and in what scenarios it could be relevant if you’ve been injured in an accident that was not your fault.
Our team is on hand if you’d like help starting a personal injury claim. One of our specialists will happily review your claim with you during an initial consultation and then explain your options. If your claim looks to have a fair chance of success, we could appoint one of our personal injury solicitors to help you. They will represent you on a No Win No Fee basis if your claim is accepted meaning you don’t have to pay any legal fees unless you’re compensated.
To learn more about why establishing a duty of care is important in personal injury claims, please read on. Alternatively, call us on 0800 6524 881 if you’d like to talk to us about a claim.
Table of contents
- Why Is A Duty Of Care Important In A Personal Injury Claim?
- Claiming Compensation Following A Breach Of Duty Of Care
- Evidence To Help Support A Personal Injury Claim
- Time Limits For Making A Claim
- Check Whether A Duty Of Care Applies In Your Case
When an individual or business fails to live up to its duty of care, it is considered a breach of duty and the entity responsible for the negligence may be held liable.
In personal injury claims, the three main points you’ll need to prove are:
- That the defendant owed you a duty of care; and
- They were negligent and caused an accident; and
- You sustained an injury as a result.
Whatever type of accident you’ve been involved in and no matter how serious your injuries were, you will not be eligible to claim compensation unless a legal duty of care exists.
Over the next few sections of this guide, we’ll review what duty of care you might be owed in different scenarios.
Employers have a duty of care to take reasonable steps to try and keep their staff as safe as possible. The relevant law in this instance is the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. This means carrying out risk assessments, training staff properly, providing proper PPE and ensuring the workplace is free from avoidable dangers.
Duty of care can mean different things in different industries. For example, employers will have a duty to maintain tools properly to keep construction workers safe. Whereas office workers should be provided with ergonomic desks and chairs if there is a risk of repetitive strain injuries.
If you believe your employer has breached their duty of care and you’ve been injured at work as a result, please get in touch.
Shops and other retail outlets have a duty of care to try and keep customers, staff and visitors safe. This means ensuring that shelves are stacked safely, shop furniture and merchandising is secured properly and the shop floor is clear from debris and spillages. If they fail to do so, and you are injured as a result, you could be eligible to claim compensation for an accident in a shop.
On top of keeping their premises as safe as possible, cafes, restaurants and bars have a duty of care to sell food that is safe to eat. Therefore, you could be compensated if you have an allergic reaction to food or suffer food poisoning because of poor hygiene, misleading information or a lack of staff training.
According to the Road Traffic Act 1988, all road users have a duty of care to try and protect others. That means pedestrians, drivers, passengers, cyclists, motorcyclists and other road users could claim compensation if they were injured in an RTA caused by somebody else.
Organisations have a duty of care to keep any place that you could visit legally without permission as safe as possible. Additionally, local authorities have a duty to inspect and maintain roads and pavements to try and prevent accidents from happening. If you’ve been injured in a public place through no fault of your own, please get in touch to discuss your options.
Doctors, dentists, nurses, surgeons and other medical professionals have a duty to provide a reasonable standard of care. If they are negligent and their patient is injured or made ill as result, compensation could be sought in a medical negligence claim by the injured party.
As we’ve shown, there are plenty of ways in which a duty of care might apply. Importantly, we’ve not included every possible scenario here so please feel free to get in touch to discuss your case with one of our specialist advisors.
If you do decide to claim following a breach of duty that has caused you to be injured, your claim could include damages to cover:
- Your physical pain and suffering.
- Any psychological suffering caused by distress, anxiety or other conditions associated with your accident.
- Medical costs including private medical treatment.
- Loss of earnings including future loss of earnings for longer-term cases.
- Fuel, parking and other travel-related expenses.
- Care costs relating to the time somebody else spent looking after you.
- Replacing items damaged during the accident.
- Making changes to your vehicle or home to help you cope with the effects of a long-term disability.
If your claim is taken on by one of our solicitors, they’ll assess what you could be compensated for after reviewing your case in detail. They’ll also arrange for an independent medical assessment (as required for personal injury claims) to ascertain the full extent of your injuries.
Once they’ve received the report on your injuries, they’ll explain what amount of compensation you could be entitled to.
As well as establishing a duty of care, to win a personal injury claim you’ll need to prove how you sustained your injury and who was responsible for it. We believe your chances of winning a claim will improve with specialist legal representation. If you work with one of our personal injury solicitors, they will try to gather as much evidence as possible including:
- Witness information. In some cases, witness statements can be a good tool to help prove what happened. Therefore, if anybody else saw your accident, ask for their contact details.
- Hospital records. It’s always a good idea to be checked over by a medical professional following an accident. Doing so should mean your injuries will be diagnosed properly and treated correctly. If you go on to claim, your medical records could be requested to help prove the severity of your injuries.
- Photographs. If you can, you should try and take pictures of the accident scene. Where possible, try to capture the cause of the accident before it’s removed.
- Accident report forms. Most companies are obliged to record accidents in some way. Legally, you can ask for a copy of the accident report form to help prove the date, time and location of your accident.
- Insurance details. In road traffic accident claims, details about the other driver, their vehicle and their insurance should be obtained and passed to your solicitor.
- Camera footage. Finally, if your accident was caught on a dashcam or a CCTV camera, you should ask for a copy of the relevant footage before it is deleted.
Please bear in mind that all personal injury claims have a 3-year time limit, starting from when the accident happened or when the injury you sustained was diagnosed. If you start your claim too late, you could miss out on any compensation even if you have proven the defendant has breached their duty of care towards you.
If you do decide to take action, starting as early as possible can make it easier to collect evidence to support your claim and will mean you’ll be compensated sooner if your claim is suitable.
If you are unsure whether you have the grounds to start a personal injury claim, call us for free advice on 0800 6524 881 and speak to a specialist. We’ll check whether a duty of care was breached and explained your options.
Remember, if your claim is taken on by one of our solicitors, they’ll represent you on a No Win No Fee Basis.
We hope this guide answers the question, “What is duty of care?”. If you need any further advice, please get in touch.