July 9, 2020

What Is a Breach of Duty?

Special to California Business Journal.

In contemplating a lawsuit, there are various terms that courts use to explain situations. Breach of duty is one such phrase, and it is one of the most significant pieces of evidence used in numerous tort cases.

A duty is an obligation one party or individual has to another party or individual. Duties may not need to be recorded or even verbally agreed upon. A driver, for instance, has a duty to other motorists to travel safely on the roads. That duty is violated when a distracted driver crashes into another car because they were texting while driving.

When a Breach of Duty Occurs

A breach of duty occurs when someone violates their obligation, as in the previous example. Breaches can occur in a number of ways, including acting or failing to act in a manner that avoids a legal responsibility.

For instance, because a distracted driver was not executing his or her duty to drive safely, that person knowingly ignored their legal responsibility.

Medical Breach of Duty

A medical breach of duty applies to individuals working within the medical sector. The medical breach of duty definition is slightly more complicated than a regular breach of duty. It signifies that a physician or healthcare professional failed to provide the expected care standards.

Doctors and other individuals in health sectors have a duty to their patients. When they fail to provide a reasonable level of care, or the level of care other doctors would have provided in the same situation, there is a medical breach of duty.

About Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

In order to file many lawsuits, including personal injury cases, individuals must prove a duty existed and that an individual breached that duty. Medical malpractice cases are no different; plaintiffs must demonstrate a physician had a duty to provide reasonable care to them and that the doctor did not meet that expectation.

Some examples of breaches of duty include:

  • A medical professional who fails to spot obvious signs of an illness
  • A doctor who prescribes incorrect medicines for a condition
  • A doctor who amputates the wrong leg
  • A nurse who fails to alert doctors about fetal monitoring strip readings

While a patient may suffer from further illnesses after seeing a doctor, unless the doctor’s actions inflicted further harm on the patient, there is usually no breach of duty.

Proving Breach of Duty

Breach of duty may seem easy enough to spot, but in court, there must be substantial evidence demonstrating that a doctor acted negligently. Typically, this requires statements from other healthcare professionals who can provide detailed descriptions of various conditions and expectations.

Further, individuals must clearly illustrate the doctor had a duty to the patient. Documents showing the doctor agreed to treat the patient usually suffice.

What to Do if You’re a Victim

In addition to demonstrating that a doctor had a duty to a patient and violated it, victims of medical malpractice must also prove that the violation resulted in an injury. Together, these elements create a strong foundation for a lawsuit.

If you believe your doctor was responsible for your injuries, it is important that you work with a lawyer who has experience in cases with your specific type of injury. A law firm that has represented 10,000 cases like yours may be able to get you a bigger settlement than a firm with less experience, and they can help you avoid court.

Medical malpractice cases can be extremely complex, and breaches of duty should never be taken lightly. They can cost individuals their health or even their lives. When this happens, patients may have the right to pursue compensation.



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