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- A person's obligation to conform his conduct to a particular standard of care.
- An obligation to protect someone else from an unreasonable risk of harm.
- An obligation of a person to act in a reasonable manner.
Standard of Care
The standard used to determine if a party has acted negligently in a particular case.
When does a duty arise?
When one person has the power to injure another and can only avoid injuring this other person by acting in a reasonable, prudent, and cautious way.
- *Can only impose damages for harm that is foreseeable.
- *Jury has to decide whether the harm is foreseeable.
- Was the injury to the plaintiff reasonably foreseeable?
- Foreseeability is a clearly recognized danger, not just the possibility of something happening.
- If the injuries were foreseeable, then it is more likely that the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff to keep him from harm.
- (If injuries were not foreseeable, the courts usually rule that the defendant had no duty)
NO duty to save a stranger's life....
- unless you caused their injury.
- (Example: Mr. Kleven's story about the ditch covered by puddle of water, and they took away the cones so that the kid would fall in the water hole.)
- They had a duty to save him from drowning since they caused him to fall in.
Duty can arise from professional status
*Duty of care for professionals is not the same as others.
Standard of care for professionals:
- What a reasonable professional of the same training would do, in the same geographical area.
- Surgeon to surgeon
- Lawyer to lawyer
One who has become an expert in a particular field through education, training, or both.
- Held to the highest standard nationwide.
- Not tied to the geographic region where the specialist practices, unlike the standard for a professional.
Special Relationships hold a duty
Parent to child - parents have a duty to protect their children from foreseeable injury and to provide a safe environment until the child grows into an adult.
Duty is on the possessor of land, not the owner
NO duty to trespassers
Unless the trespassers are children who can accidentally harm themselves on the property.
NO duty to 3rd parties
Example: Someone who witnesses an accident and is not injured by the plaintiff.
Possible to waive duty by signing a contract in certain circumstances
- But special relationships CAN'T waive duty by contract.
- Example: Doctors can't have patient sign waiver releasing them from liability for malpractice.