Understanding Negligence Actions Part II: Duty

March 25, 2016 in Articles | MARTIN WREN, P.C. | LEAVE A COMMENT

Virginia Personal Injury Lawyers

Negligence actions are common claims in personal injury law, and can be used to help you recover compensation from an insurance company for the harm you have suffered. If you’ve been injured due to another person’s negligence, it can be difficult to understand your legal rights. . MartinWren, P.C.’s five-part series on understanding negligence actions can help you better grasp these difficult legal concepts.

In Part I of this series, we took a birds-eye view of negligence actions; for Part II, we will take a close look at the first component of a negligence action: duty. Duty serves as the foundation in these cases, for without duty, there is no legal obligation owed by the defendant to the plaintiff, and therefore no breach of duty or possible actionable negligence. Proving a duty existed before your injury is the first step a Personal Injury Lawyer will take for you and your case.

What is a duty and when does it apply?

Defendants and plaintiffs in personal injury cases oftentimes have no prior relationship, making specific duties difficult to pin down. Typically in personal injury cases, a duty is imposed by common law, not a specific statute or law on the Virginia books. This common law driven duty is sometimes stated as the general duty not to injure another person. This makes it possible for a plaintiff to seek damages even when the plaintiff and the defendant have no written contract or formal relationship.

As mentioned in Part I of this series, a simple juxtaposition of the plaintiff and the defendant with regards to physical space and time created duties that existed between our car accident victim and the other driver. This duty arises whenever needed to ensure protection of the plaintiff from criminal and negligent actions of the defendant that can be “reasonably foreseen or anticipated.”

In our stop sign example, the plaintiff was granted a special relationship with the defendant because it was the defendant’s duty to protect other drivers in the area from collisions that could have been prevented by stopping at the stop sign.

Another duty: the duty of care

There is sometimes an assumption of duty when a person chooses to perform an action, and this makes him or her liable for damages caused by negligent performance of the action. When a person performs some actions, they are undertaking the duty of acting carefully, and must act as a reasonable person. .

For example, a business that produces a product assumes a duty of care to make a product that is safe for consumers, and to warm consumers about any dangers associated with the product. If, for example, a company knowingly left off a label on a children’s toy advising parents of an existing choking hazard for children under three, the company could be liable for any injury or wrongful death caused by their toy. A type of injury claim caused by a dangerous product is known as a product liability action.

let us assist you with your claim

Experienced and caring Virginia Personal Injury Lawyers at MartinWren, P.C. are available to review your negligence claim with a free consultation. After an injury, don’t feel like you have to shoulder proving your defendant’s duty to act reasonably. Residents in Charlottesville, Virginia can contact our offices and receive the help you deserve.

For more information, please contact Kirk D. Becchi at (540) 437-0001.

Contact Our Virginia Lawyers

We serve clients throughout Virginia — from Charlottesville and Central Virginia to metropolitan Richmond; Harrisonburg and the Shenandoah Valley to Roanoke; and the cities of Hampton Roads to the Northern Virginia cities of  Fairfax, Alexandria and Arlington.

To speak with one of our attorneys, please call us at (434) 817-3100.

Our Virginia personal injury lawyers at MartinWren, P.C. have a statewide practice and offer free consultations at a time and location that is convenient for you.  We will gladly meet with you at your home or at the hospital, even on nights and weekends.


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