What Is Breach of Duty?

Negligence claims are the most common type of personal injury case. They include injuries from auto accidents, premises liability, medical malpractice, product liability, and many other situations. Breach of duty is an essential element you must prove to win a personal injury claim.

What Are the Elements of a Personal Injury Claim?

In most cases, you must prove the four elements of negligence to recover compensation for damages. Those elements are:

  • Duty of Care
  • Breach of Duty
  • Causation
  • Damages

Therefore, before you can prove a party breached the duty of care, you must prove they owed you a legal duty of care. A duty of care is a requirement to perform specific conduct. 

In a personal injury case, a duty of care means a party has a legal duty to take reasonable care to avoid causing injury or harm to someone. The level of care varies. However, it is normally based on what a reasonable person would have done in the same or similar situation. 

How Does a Party Breach the Duty of Care?

A breach of duty occurs when a party fails to meet the level of care for a specific situation or circumstance. First, a jury uses the facts of the case to determine the level of care based on the reasonable person standard. Then, the jurors examine the defendant’s conduct to determine if the defendant failed to meet the required duty of care.

If the defendant’s conduct fell short of the duty of care, the jury can find that the defendant was negligent. Examples of situations where a jury might find the defendant breached the duty of care include:

  • A property owner knows the steps people use are broken but fails to make repairs or warn people of the danger.
  • A dog has bitten several people, but the dog owner fails to place the dog in a secure area and fails to use a leash when the dog is outside of the secure area.
  • A hotel does not take measures to clean mold from the rooms after discovering the mold and continues renting the rooms.
  • A bakery owner does not clean up a spill from a leaky cabinet after noticing the liquid on the floor.
  • A physician does not order an x-ray when the patient’s symptoms indicate they have a broken bone.

Proving breach of duty can be challenging. You must convince a jury that a reasonable person would have acted differently in the same situation. Because this test is subjective, you need a skilled Chicago personal injury lawyer to argue your case in court. 

What Damages Can I Recover if I Prove Breach of Duty in a Personal Injury Case?

Damages in a personal injury case usually include economic and non-economic damages. A person may be entitled to reimbursement for financial losses, including:

  • Medical bills
  • Property damage
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Rehabilitative therapies
  • Personal care
  • Decreased earning potential

The victim can also recover compensation for their pain and suffering. These damages include:

  • Disfigurement and scarring
  • Emotional distress
  • Physical discomfort
  • A loss of enjoyment of life and quality of life
  • Impairments and disabilities
  • Mental anguish

You must also prove the party caused your injury and that you sustained damages as a result. If you cannot prove causation and damages, finding a person failed to meet the duty of care does not result in compensation for damages. 

How Does Comparative Fault Impact Breach of Duty in an Illinois Personal Injury Case?

If you prove breach of duty and the other elements of negligence, you can recover compensation for your damages. However, Illinois has a modified contributory fault law which could impact the amount of money you receive. 

If you were more than 50% to blame for your injury, you could not recover any money for your claim. Even though the other party breached the duty of care and caused your injury, your level of fault bars you from receiving any compensation for damages. 

However, let’s assume that a jury found you were only 25% to blame for causing your injuries. In that case, you could receive 75% of the damages the jury awards. Assuming the jury awarded $100,000, you would receive $75,000.

How Long Do I Have To File a Claim for Breach of Duty in Illinois?

The Illinois statute of limitations for personal injury cases is typically two years from the injury date. In some cases, the statute begins when the person should have reasonably known about the injury if they were not immediately aware of it.

Exceptions to the statute of limitations could change the deadline. It is always best to talk with our attorneys as soon as possible after an injury or accident. 

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers

When you hire our experienced lawyers at Attorneys of Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers, we handle all legal aspects of your personal injury claim. Don’t hesitate to contact us, you can focus on your recovery while we focus on recovering a fair settlement for your injury claim. Call us at (312) 929-2884 to schedule a free case evaluation with a Chicago personal injury attorney.