Gratified by the verdict, Cara Munn hopes her case will encourage people to be more responsible when children are in their care. After nine years of litigation, a federal appeals court upheld a $41.7 million jury verdict for the 15-year-old who was left permanently disabled after developing encephalitis from a tick bite during a class trip to a remote, mountainous region of China.
The court held that the Connecticut private school, which organized the study abroad trip and where Munn had just concluded her freshman year, was obligated to protect children in their care from personal injury. Attorneys representing Hotchkiss School had argued that the defendant had no “duty of care” to warn Munn and her parents about a potential tick-borne disease on the 2007 trip because such an event and the ensuing injuries could not have been predicted.
In legal circles, the term “duty of care” means one person or group has a responsibility to take actions that are necessary and reasonable to prevent harm to other individuals and their property. In Florida, duty of care applies to lawsuits in which a reasonable person could have predicted that a defendant’s actions would have caused harm to another.
Most personal injury disputes are based on whether an individual, property owner, business, or manufacturer acted in a manner that resulted in damage. Duty of care may sound complex, but the personal injuries that result from its neglect are not difficult to grasp. Consider the breach of care when a motorist drives while impaired or disobeys speed limits that are designed to prevent accidents involving other vehicles or pedestrians; or the doctor who is negligent for failing to meet appropriate levels of care for a patient.
Duty of care holds an individual or organization accountable to act in a way that is generally believed to be appropriate. Failure to do so can be considered grounds for negligence in a court of law. To prove a breach in duty of care, a personal injury attorney will have to show that:
- The defendant was bound by a legal DUTY to the plaintiff in the given circumstances;
- The defendant was in BREACH of a legal responsibility to act in a “prudent” manner;
- The defendant’s behavior actually CAUSED injury to the plaintiff;
- The degree to which the plaintiff suffered, as a result of the actions or inactions of the defendant, are worthy of DAMAGES.
An experienced personal injury attorney can prove that a reasonable person would not have acted as the defendant did under the same situation; or that the plaintiff, based on an existing relationship, was owed a special duty of care from the defendant.
Think about your injuries and your circumstances. Were you in an automobile accident with an intoxicated driver? Did a bus driver, perhaps, fail to provide you with the duty of care you were to expect as a passenger, and you ended injured instead. Or did a manufacturer fail to present the necessary warnings on labels that alluded to dangers when using the product? If responsible measures were violated, the time has come for you to seek justice for your injuries that otherwise could have been prevented. The time has come to seek legal advice.
Maybe you never realized that had the carpet on the showroom floor not been torn, or had the steps leading into the grocery store not been covered with melting ice, you may not have slipped and fallen. And all this time, you continued to blame yourself. Maybe you did not know that healthcare providers — whether they are doctors, nurses, surgeons, or therapists — are accountable for reasonable standards of care or that hospitals can be liable for the negligence of medical practitioners under their supervision.
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Negligence is never acceptable. Motorists, property owners, businesses, healthcare providers and manufacturers must be held to a duty of care so that everyone who uses their services or purchases their products can feel safe.
Proving fault is never easy. The civil litigators at Shiner Law Group take all breaches in duty of care seriously and understand the complexities involved with proving the harm you suffered was avoidable.
What about your injuries? The accessible attorneys at Shiner Law Group can make a determination and chart a strategy based on your unique circumstances to recoup the financial compensation related to your medical expenses, damage to you emotional health and well-being, and lost wages from time away from work.