6/9/17 The Meaning of Duty of Care

The Meaning of Duty of Care

The duty of care refers to the degree of caution and attention to possible dangers that an ordinarily prudent and rational person would use when dealing with others in similar circumstances.

In tort law, the duty of care is useful to determine whether a person is negligent and therefore liable, as failing to live up to the duty of care is known as a breach of duty. One person can only be liable to another if such person had a duty to act with reasonable care toward the other.

However, specialized tort situations use a specialized duty of care. In a medical malpractice case, for instance, a doctor’s actions are compared to the actions a reasonable doctor in his field would have taken, not the actions a reasonable layperson would have taken. Similarly, in legal malpractice an attorney’s duty of care is to act as a reasonable attorney would in that same situation.