Council Compensation Claims

We work in partnership with National Accident Helpline, the UK's leading personal injury specialists.

Council Compensation Claims

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Not sure if you have a valid claim? Contact us for free advice, with no obligation to proceed.

Council Compensation Claims

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No win no fee* takes the risk out of making an injury claim. If you lose your case, you don't pay a penny.

Council Compensation Claims

Talk to the experts

We work in partnership with National Accident Helpline, the UK's leading personal injury experts.

Council Compensation Claims

Free, no obligation advice

Not sure if you have a valid claim? Contact us for free advice, with no obligation to proceed.

Council Compensation Claims

No win no fee guarantee

No win no fee takes the risk out of making an injury claim. If you lose your case, you don't pay a penny.

Council Compensation Claims

Talk to the experts

We work in partnership with National Accident Helpline, the UK's leading personal injury experts.

What is Duty of Care?

Any person who suffers harm due to someone else’s negligence could be eligible to claim compensation. However, a legal duty of care must first be established. This is typically done by demonstrating that the defendant had a responsibility to act in a certain way to prevent harm, and that they failed to meet this standard.

If it can be proven that a third party breached its duty of care towards you, a solicitor can help you start a personal injury claim. If your claim is successful, you will receive damages for the pain, suffering, and financial losses you suffered due to the defendant’s negligence.

If you are wondering, ‘What does duty of care mean?’, this article aims to provide you with a thorough understanding of the concept. For further information about the duty of care meaning or to assess your eligibility to make a claim, please call 0800 678 1410 or request a call back. You will receive a free consultation with a friendly legal adviser who will answer all your questions and guide you through your legal options.

How is duty of care defined?

A duty of care is a legal obligation that one party has to avoid causing any foreseeable harm to another party. That means that individuals, businesses, and other organisations must take reasonable care to prevent injury to others who could be affected by their actions or omissions. This duty exists in various contexts, including healthcare, employment, public places, etc.

For example, employers must take all reasonable measures to prevent workplace accidents and protect their employees’ health, safety and well-being. Likewise, business owners must keep all premises as safe as possible to avoid injuries to employees and visitors alike.

What does duty of care mean in practical terms?

In practical terms, duty of care means taking reasonable steps to ensure the safety and well-being of others in situations where harm could occur. Based on the specific circumstances, some examples include:

  • Conduct regular risk assessments to identify potential hazards that could cause injuries;
  • Put in place measures to eliminate or mitigate identified risks;
  • Obey traffic laws and avoid actions that could endanger other road users;
  • Provide a safe work environment, including proper training and equipment to employees;
  • Provide competent medical treatment and ensure patient safety during procedures;
  • Take special consideration when it comes to safeguarding children, as they are more prone to accidents.

In each of these scenarios, individuals or companies are expected to act reasonably to prevent foreseeable harm to others. If they fail to meet this legal duty and someone is injured as a result, they may be held liable for negligence.

Why is duty of care important?

Duty of care is crucial because it forms the foundation of legal and ethical responsibilities in various contexts, including healthcare, education, and everyday interactions. A legal duty is essential for multiple reasons, such as:

  • It helps protect people from harm and ensures their safety and well-being;
  • By recognising and fulfilling their duty of care, individuals and organisations can prevent accidents and injuries;
  • It sets a reasonable standard of care that you can expect from others in various situations, such as at work, on the road or while receiving medical care;
  • It establishes accountability for actions and decisions so that when a third party breaches their duty of care toward you, they can be held legally responsible for their negligence;
  • Fulfilling the legal duty of care helps build trust and confidence between various parties, such as employers and workers or patients and healthcare professionals.

Overall, duty of care is essential for creating safe environments where individuals can carry out work and daily activities and be protected from harm.

What are the consequences of a breach of duty of care?

A breach of duty of care obligations can have significant legal and ethical implications. Some of the main consequences include:

  • It can result in legal liability, where the responsible party may be held accountable for any harm or damage caused;
  • It can result in financial losses and other potential fines or penalties for the negligent party;
  • It can damage the reputation of individuals, businesses, or institutions and affect the morale of other people associated with them;
  • It can lead to a loss of trust and confidence in the responsible party, whether it’s a manufacturer, medical professional or local authority;
  • It can result in physical injury and financial losses for the party harmed by the breach of duty;
  • It can have a profound emotional impact on those who have been harmed due to negligence and their loved ones.

Duty of care examples in the context of personal injury claims

Before taking on a personal injury claim, solicitors will verify that a duty of care exists and that the defendant has breached their legal responsibilities. Depending on the circumstances, a legal duty will be based on different laws and legislations, such as the Road Traffic Act 1988 in road accident claims. Some common duty of care examples include the following:

Employer’s duty of care

All employers owe a duty of care to their employees, which is primarily outlined in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and subsequent regulations. Key aspects of their responsibilities include:

  • Assess the risks associated with workplace activities and implement measures to mitigate these risks;
  • Provide a safe working environment, free from hazards that could cause harm to employees;
  • Ensure workers receive adequate training and supervision to do their jobs safely;
  • Provide the appropriate tools, equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE) for the job;
  • Provide employees with clear information and instructions on how to work safely and report any health and safety concerns.

Employees also have a duty of care at work to follow workplace safety policies and exercise caution and common sense to prevent accidents. If you believe you suffered an injury due to your employer’s negligence, you might be eligible to make an accident at work claim.

Duty of care meaning in public places

The occupiers of public premises have a duty of care to ensure that visitors are safe from harm while on their property. This duty is outlined by the Occupiers Liability Act 1957 and applies to both lawful visitors and trespassers. The responsibilities it involves include:

  • Carry out regular inspection and maintenance of the premises to identify and address hazards that could cause harm to visitors;
  • Provide adequate signs of barriers to prevent accidents due to hazards such as slippery floors or uneven surfaces;
  • Take reasonable steps to safeguard children or vulnerable individuals who may be less able to recognise and avoid dangers;
  • Comply with relevant health and safety regulations and industry standards to minimise the risk of accidents and injuries.

Any accident in a public place caused by a breach of duty can result in a compensation claim. This includes supermarket accidents and accidents in restaurants, nightclubs, shops and other business premises.

Duty of care on the road

All road users owe a duty of care to other road users, including pedestrians, cyclists, and other motorists. They must follow the rules and regulations set out by the Road Traffic Act 1988 and the Highway Code and operate their vehicles in a safe and responsible manner, taking reasonable care to avoid causing harm to others. Practically, they must:

  • Adhere to speed limits
  • Avoid distractions such as mobile phones or other devices
  • Obey traffic signals, signs, and road markings
  • Yield the right of way according to the law
  • Check mirrors and signalling intentions
  • Be mindful of the presence of pedestrians, cyclists, and other vehicles
  • Adjust their driving behaviour in adverse weather conditions, such as rain, snow, or fog

If you suffered an injury on the road because someone else breached their duty of care towards you, you may be able to make a road traffic accident claim.

Duty of care definition for medical professionals

All medical professionals, whether GPs, doctors, nurses, dentists or other professionals, have a legal obligation to provide a certain standard of care to their patients. They are expected to adhere to accepted medical practices and standards of care in their respective fields. These are set by the General Medical Council (GMC), the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and other regulatory bodies. Basically, they must:

  • Possess the necessary knowledge, skills, and expertise to diagnose and treat patients effectively;
  • Act in the best interests of the patient;
  • Provide honest and accurate information to patients and obtain their informed consent for treatment;
  • Exercise reasonable care, skill, and judgment in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of medical conditions;
  • Order appropriate tests and investigations when necessary;
  • Monitor the patient’s progress and provide appropriate follow-up care to ensure continuity of treatment and recovery.

Any deviation from the reasonable standard of care that causes avoidable harm to a patient can result in a medical negligence claim.

Duty of care of manufacturers

Manufacturers are legally obligated to ensure that the products they design, produce, and distribute are safe for consumers to use. This duty includes:

  • Design products that are safe for their intended use;
  • Ensure that manufacturing processes meet safety standards;
  • Provide clear instructions for safe use and warnings about potential risks;
  • Monitor product quality to prevent defects or hazards;
  • Take prompt action to recall or repair products found to be unsafe.

A distributor, retailer or importer of a defective product could also be liable for negligence if they did not exercise reasonable skill and care and could have foreseen the possibility of an injury occurring. If you suffered harm from a defective product, you could start a claim under the Consumer Protection Act 1987.

Duty of care of local authorities

The local council and authorities have the duty to ensure the safety and well-being of the public. This encompasses various activities, such as policing, education and public health. Some essential aspects of these responsibilities include:

  • Maintain roads, pavements, parks, playgrounds, and other public areas to ensure they are safe for use;
  • Oversee building regulations and inspections to ensure that residential and commercial properties meet safety standards;
  • Provide essential services such as waste collection, recycling and street cleaning;
  • Respond to emergencies promptly and efficiently;
  • Safeguard vulnerable individuals such as children, older people, and people with disabilities by providing social care services.

What are the criteria for establishing a duty of care?

Specific criteria must be met to establish a duty of care when making a personal injury claim, and these are:

  • Foreseeability. The harm that occurred should have been reasonably foreseeable by the defendant. In other words, a reasonable person in their position would have anticipated the potential risks to others.
  • Proximity. There must be a close and direct relationship between the defendant and the injured party, or their actions must have directly impacted the claimant. This can include physical proximity, such as being in the same place, or a relationship of trust or reliance.
  • Reasonableness. The duty of care must be one that a reasonable person would recognise and uphold in similar circumstances. This may involve weighing the potential for harm and the cost of preventing it.

How do I prove a breach of duty of care?

Proving a breach of duty typically involves showing that the responsible party has failed to uphold the standard of care expected in a given situation. This can be accomplished by gathering evidence such as:

  • Photographs or videos capturing your injuries and any hazards present at the accident scene before anything is moved, repaired or replaced;
  • CCTV or dash cam footage of the accident, if available;
  • Witness statements from individuals who saw the accident or are familiar with the conditions leading to your illness or injury;
  • Expert opinions from professionals who can assess the actions of the responsible party and determine if they fell below the standard of reasonable care;
  • Any relevant documents such as contracts, agreements, policies, or industry standards that outline the expected level of care;
  • Incident reports filed with the responsible party that document the accident and its aftermath;
  • Medical records detailing the treatments you received, diagnoses made, and any deviations from the General Medical Council (GMC) standards in cases of clinical negligence.

Time limits to claim compensation following a breach of duty of care

If another party breached its duty of care towards you, causing you a personal injury, you have three years to start a negligence claim under the Limitation Act 1980. This time limit for personal injury claims begins on the date of your accident or the date you became aware of the negligence, also known as the date of knowledge. After three years, your case will be statute-barred and no longer considered valid by the court. There are a few exceptions, including:

  • A parent or legal guardian can make a child accident claim at any time before the child’s 18th birthday. Afterwards, the injured child will have three years to start a claim themselves (providing a claim has not already been made on their behalf).
  • There is no time limit if the injured party lacks mental capacity and cannot handle legal proceedings. In this case, a litigation friend could claim on their behalf at any time, regardless of when they were injured.
  • If a loved one suffered a wrongful death, you can start a compensation claim within three years after they passed away.

If you suffered an injury due to someone else’s fault and want to learn more about the definition and meaning of duty of care, do not hesitate to call 0800 678 1410 to speak to an experienced legal adviser. Alternatively, you can use our contact form to request a free consultation. If you can proceed with a claim, the solicitors we work with will offer you a no win no fee agreement and will guide you through every step of the process.

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