Breach of Duty: Definition and Meaning

The term "breach" describes breaking a law or legal obligation. One of the four components of a negligence lawsuit is this. You must establish in a negligence lawsuit that another party's violation of their duty of care led to your injury. You may be entitled to financial compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering if someone else's negligence resulted in your injuries.

What is a Duty of Care?

In general, a duty of care is the obligation a person has under the law to take reasonable care while acting in a way that can inadvertently cause injury to another person. Although the term may appear straightforward, there may be significant disagreements regarding what is "fair" and "foreseeable" in a negligence lawsuit.

People are obligated to take care of others under a variety of circumstances. A doctor has a responsibility to provide the level of care necessitated by the patient's condition. It is the accountant's responsibility to appropriately prepare tax returns. A shop owner has a responsibility to remove ice from their sidewalk so that customers don't trip and fall.

What is a Breach of Duty?

When the defendant's behaviour falls short of the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise in a comparable circumstance, a duty of care violation has occurred. A legal yardstick is used to determine the degree of care that ought to be exercised in a circumstance.

The definition of a reasonable individual is arbitrary. Instead, the standard varies based on the circumstances and case-specific details.

Members of the jury decide what a prudent person would have done if they had been in the defendant's shoes. The jury also assesses whether the defendant's actions upheld that standard or fell short of it. The jury can conclude that the defendant violated the duty of care if he did not behave with reasonable care.

Example of Breach of Duty

  • A dog owner that permits their animal to roam free in the neighborhood

  • A doctor who disregards ordering diagnostic tests in response to a patient's symptoms

  • Failure of property owners to restore damaged steps or install warnings about slick walking surfaces

  • Drivers who speed through school zones, text while driving, or operate vehicles after drinking

When Does a Breach of Duty Constitute Negligence

Always remember that you have a legal responsibility of care to take reasonable precautions whenever you do something that could potentially cause injury to someone else. If that is violated, negligence is the outcome.

Foreseeability may be the only criterion necessary to establish a duty of care in some governments. This means that the actor was negligent if a jury determines that the injury was predictable. Hence, for instance, it is predictable that choosing to drive while intoxicated will result in a car accident; the person who made this choice was negligent.

Yet, the majority of states use a multifactor analysis to decide whether a duty was owed. States have a variety of factors, but the majority include −

  • How much damage might potentially occur.

  • The price and availability of alternatives to the action done.

  • The necessity of preventing further harm.

  • The degree to which the deed and the harm are interconnected.

After a duty of care is established, if it is violated, a test is used to evaluate whether negligence occurred.

There are four elements of a negligence claim 

  • Someone was owed a duty of care by the defendant.

  • The obligation was broken by the defendant

  • The plaintiff was harmed by the duty breach.

  • Damages resulted from the harm.

How a duty breach manifests itself in a case of strict liability

A defendant may occasionally be held accountable under strict responsibility. Negligence is distinct from strict liability. Actually, there is no need to provide evidence of carelessness. According to strict responsibility, the defendant is automatically responsible for engaging in a certain behavior or breaking a particular law. The defendant need not have intended to cause injury in order to be held strictly liable. Examples of circumstances when a duty violation results in strict responsibility include−

  • Abnormally Dangerous Activities − Strict liability applies to injuries brought on by unusually risky activities. Even with prudence, these activities carry a significant level of risk and are uncommon in the region where the injury occurs. Explosives are an example of a harmful activity that is not usual.

  • Product Liability − For injuries caused by design flaws, manufacturing flaws, or marketing flaws in their products, manufacturers, and distributors may be strictly accountable.

  • Wild Animals − If you keep a wild animal as a pet, you are legally responsible for any injuries it may cause to others.

  • Dog Bites − In the majority of states, when a dog bites someone else, the owner is strictly accountable. For strict responsibility to apply in some jurisdictions, the dog must have previously shown aggressive tendencies.

What occurs when a victim of an injury violates their duty of care

A victim of an accident may have violated their own duty of care and contributed to the event's cause. Florida's laws on comparative fault may limit the victim's damages in several circumstances.

A victim of an accident who did not cause it may be entitled to 100% of their damages under the doctrine of comparative fault. Nonetheless, the accident victim's compensation will be diminished by their degree of negligence if they share responsibility for their injuries. For instance, if a jury determined that your contribution to the cause of an automobile accident was 40%, you would only be entitled to get 60% of the number of your losses. How much money you can get for an accident claim may change significantly if you share the blame for the event that caused your injuries.


If a duty of care has been established, it is important to determine whether the defendant's actions have violated that responsibility. Determining the standard that should be used against the defendant, in this case, is crucial. After that has been done, it is necessary to look at the defendant's actions to see if they have failed to uphold this standard.

Frequently Asked Question

Q1. What is a breach of professional duty?

Ans. A breach of professional obligation occurs when You or Your Employee violates a responsibility owed in a professional capacity as a result of any advice, act, mistake, or omission in the course of Your Business.

Q2. What is the legal test for breach of duty?

Ans. First, the defendant must be in control of the event that results in damage (or under the control of someone for whose actions the defendant is responsible). Second, there must be no recognised cause for the accident. Thirdly, the harmful event must be one that would not ordinarily take place absent neglect.

Q3. What is a breach of conduct or contract?

Ans. An act that contravenes the conditions outlined in a conduct policy is, in essence, a violation of conduct. It's important to note that the action must be deliberate. Instead, whether they intend to or not, anyone can be found guilty of a conduct violation.

Q4. What is the punishment for a breach of trust?

Ans. Section Details of the India Code. A criminal breach of trust is punishable by either physical or mental imprisonment for a term that may not exceed three years, a fine, or both.

Updated on: 14-Apr-2023


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