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What is a duty of care in negligence cases?

One of the great things about the justice system is that it applies equally to everybody. Another way of saying this is that justice is blind, which simply means justice is administered objectively and impartially to all, without regard to who the particular individuals are that may be involved in a case.

While these concepts are often thought of with regard to the criminal justice system, they apply in civil cases as well. Pennsylvania residents who have suffered serious injuries at the hands of someone else may hold that person accountable, without regard to who the person is or what that person's circumstances may be.

For instance, last week this blog discussed the rising number of fatal accidents involving teenage drivers. While there are some instances in which children are treated differently under the law, teenage drivers typically have a duty of care like other drivers on the road.

The duty of care, which is central to negligence cases, looks at whether someone acted reasonably as compared to how a hypothetical reasonable person would have acted in a similar situation. If someone violates his or her duty of care, they may be considered negligent and ordered to pay damages to the injured person.

There are many different ways in which someone can violate his or her duty of care. A car collision caused by someone falling asleep at the wheel, for example, might constitute negligence that can result in negligence. Or, as discussed last week, a person who speeds, engages in distracted driving or fails to yield can be considered negligent.

The bottom line is that all drivers on the road owe a duty of care to one another. Accordingly, when a person violates that duty of care, they can be held accountable for causing severe injuries to others.

Source: FindLaw, "Pennsylvania negligence laws," accessed on Oct. 22, 2016

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