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Safety Officers surveying the Duty of Care

Duty of Care Explained

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A duty of care creates a legal responsibility to safeguard the wellbeing of others, including taking reasonable care not to prevent foreseeable harm to a person or their property. A duty of care can exist in a number of settings, including:

  • Employers to employee’s
  • Shops to their customers
  • Doctors to their patients
  • Manufacturers to consumers
  • Landlords to tenants

Have you been injured from someone’s negligence?

If another party has breached their duty of care owed to you, the possibility may arise for you to claim compensation under negligence, and public liability law. In order for this to be made out, it must be established that:

  • A duty of care exists,
  • There was a breach of the duty of care
  • The breach has caused injury and/or loss

Breach of the Duty of Care

Once a duty of care is established, it must be proven that the defendant’s actions, (or their failure to act) neglected their responsibility, breaching their duty. For this element to be satisfied, it must be shown by the plaintiff that:

  • It was reasonably foreseeable that they would be harmed by the specific act or omission.
  • The risk of injury is not insignificant.
  • That a reasonable person, in the same situation would have taken steps to reduce or eliminate the risk.

Common examples of a breach in the duty of care:

  • Injuries in a public place: If you trip or slip as a result of another person’s recklessness it may be possible to seek compensation. Injuries arising from common slips for which compensation can be claimed can occur from uneven footpaths, slipping on wet floors, or poorly maintained walkways or stairs – see our page on trips, slips and falls for more information.
  • Injuries caused by animals: Common animal injuries falling under negligence actions include dog bites and horse-riding accidents. In relation to dog attacks, the owner can be held liable for their dog attacking another person or animal.
  • Injuries at an amusement park or venue: Theme Park and venue owners are responsible for implementing precautions to ensure customers are not subject to any foreseeable injury. Venue owners and managers will not be liable for all accidents occurring on their premises – only those which occur as result of their negligence.


In a negligence claim, causation refers to the plaintiff showing that their injury would not have occurred but for the breach, i.e it must be demonstrated that the negligence caused some harm.


Once each of duty of care, breach and causation aspects have all been made out, a plaintiff can be entitled to compensation for their damage. Damages for loss can then be awarded, of which may include:

  • Past loss of earnings
  • Damages for any pain and suffering
  • Medical and like expenses
  • Loss of future earnings if ability to work is affected.
  • Past and future damages for the incapacity to provide care to those who depend on you.

If you have suffered harm and believe you have a claim for negligence from a party who owes you a duty of care, and they have breached that duty you should seek legal advice as soon as possible, as stern time limits apply.