Negligence: Duty of Care and Proof of Breach

Negligence can be categorized as a tort if the four initially discussed elements are met. However, the first two factors, duty and breach of care are necessary for establishing the connection between an individual’s responsibilities and carelessness in accomplishing them. Duty, in this case, refers to an individual’s obligation to another, often supported by social norms, religion, and philosophy. It is meant to shape a person’s behavior in addition to the fact that it can be used as a basis for determining the credibility of one’s conduct.

Consequently, the law of negligence evaluates human decisions to participate in harmful behavior as appropriate or not. Since choices are only classified as improper when they violate antecedent obligations not to indulge in actions that will harm others, duty substantiates the holistic definition of negligence. Every claim of negligence has to meet the duty criteria because it demonstrates the level of impact resulting from accidental harm. Moreover, duty is not only important in identifying torts caused by carelessness; it also applies in excluded types of cases where negligence does not lead to injuries and liabilities.

On the other hand, proof of breach is the action itself, where the tortfeasor intentionally ignores its responsibilities. This element is underpinned by the standard of care, which expects an individual to adhere to pre-existing rules of behavior meant to prevent them from harming others. Consequently, a person who behaves recklessly without considering their role in upholding peace in the community breaches the duty of care. To determine the level of care an individual is supposed to maintain while interacting with other parties, the negligence law incorporates the “objective and reasonable person” approach, which expects an individual to behave accordingly while accomplishing their responsibilities without the intention of harming others. Consequently, the theory of objective reasoning implies that the classification of a defendant’s action as negligence does not necessarily rely on their efforts to be cautious. Rather, to ascertain whether there is a breach of duty, the negligence law juxtaposes the tortfeasor’s actions with external measurements of good behavior based on objective reasoning.

Standard of care refers to the level of attention, prudence, watchfulness, and caution expected from a reasonable individual throughout all circumstances. It helps in differentiating injuries that were caused intentionally or out of carelessness and those that happened even though the perceived tortfeasor observed related rules. A perfect example is the Martin v. Herzog case, where the defendant hit a buggy with his car killing the plaintiff’s husband on the spot. Traffic rules demand that a driver uses headlights while traveling at night to avoid causing accidents as a standard of care. Unfortunately, the defendant was negligent and failed to follow this rule and, as a result, was liable for the damages caused to the plaintiff.

Criminal statutes, even though different from tort laws, can be used to illustrate the expected standard of care. The difference between the two is that the former defines the kind of punishment accorded to offenders and prevents citizens from engaging in wrongdoing. Tort law, on the other hand, is concerned with compensating individuals who have been injured during misconduct. Similarly, in law, “custom” is a constant behavior practiced voluntarily by a community and can therefore be used in setting standards of human conduct. Specialized standards of care are applied to a specific group of people, such as experts in a particular field. For instance, medical professionals have obligations to follow and, if broken, can be used against them in a court of law.

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