Skip to Main Content

Breach of Duty

Breach of Duty

A personal injury claim arises when one party suffers an injury due to another party’s misconduct. Negligence, which means something like carelessness, is the most commonly asserted basis for a personal injury claim. 

‘Breach of duty’ refers to the breach of an applicable duty of care, and it is one of the four facts that you need to establish in order to win a negligence claim. Breach of duty can be difficult to prove, depending on the facts of the case.

Table of Contents

The ‘Reasonable Person’ Standard

The ‘Reasonable Person’ Standard

Meet the ‘reasonable person.’ You can’t see them because they don’t actually exist. Nevertheless, they decide more personal injury claims than the Supreme Court does. They decide the outcome of car accidents, workplace injuries, and medical malpractice claims

The more you behave like a ‘reasonable person,’ the more likely you are to win your personal injury claim. That’s because as long as you are behaving as a ‘reasonable person’ would, you cannot breach your duty. 

Of course, if you are a cardiologist treating a patient, you must behave as a reasonable cardiologist would, not as a reasonable accountant would. As long as you stick within the bounds of what is reasonable, however, you cannot breach your duty of care. 

The Elements of a Negligence Claim

For the sake of content, below is an explanation of the four main elements of a Texas personal injury.  

Duty of Care

Every mentally competent adult has a duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid injuring other people. As mentioned above, some people, such as medical professionals, must exercise an elevated duty of care while they are practicing their profession. Following are some specific instances of ‘duty of care’ requirements:

  • A shop owner must maintain safe premises for their customers and must inspect for and repair hidden dangers.
  • A driver must obey traffic laws and drive safely.
  • A manufacturer must ensure that their products are safe to use.
  • An employer must provide a safe working environment for their employees.
  • A dog owner must keep their dog on a leash in public.
  • A landlord must repair known hazards in their rental property.
  • A doctor must provide competent medical care to their patients.
  • A school must ensure that its schoolchildren are supervised and safe during school hours and after-school activities.

Many other forms of breach of duty frequently emerge in personal injury cases.

Breach of Duty

Every duty makes demands on you. You breach your duty when you fail to meet its demands. Examples of possible breaches of duty include:

  • A shop owner fails to erect a ‘Wet Floor’ sign after mopping.
  • A motorist texts while driving.
  • A product manufacturer fails to recall a dangerous product.
  • An employer fails to provide safety helmets when needed.
  • A pet owner allows their aggressive dog to roam freely.
  • A landlord fails to fix a broken heater (assuming the lease holds the landlord responsible for repairing it).
  • A doctor fails to order lab tests in response to patient complaints that raise legitimate medical concerns.
  • A school leaves its children unsupervised.

Proving breach of duty effectively proves negligence, but it doesn’t necessarily establish liability. For that, you must also prove damages and causation.


‘Damages’ means losses that can be compensated with money. In a personal injury claim, this typically means a physical injury, such as a broken leg, or an intangible loss, such as emotional distress. You must prove every dime of damages that you claim.


The defendant’s breach of duty must have caused your damages, and it must have caused it in a reasonably foreseeable manner.

Proving Breach of Duty

Following is a tiny sampling of specific acts and omissions that might constitute breach of duty for the purpose of proving a personal injury claim:

  • Presenting surveillance footage or photographs showing the hazardous condition that led to the injury.
  • Providing eyewitness testimonies that corroborate the plaintiff’s account of the incident.
  • Submitting medical records that link the injury directly to the incident in question.
  • Producing expert testimony to explain how the defendant’s actions deviated from standard practices.
  • Demonstrating the violation of specific laws or regulations by the defendant at the time of the accident.
  • Citing previous legal precedent with similar circumstances where duty of care was breached.
  • Gathering maintenance records that show neglect in addressing known safety issues by a property owner.
  • Using cell phone records to prove that a driver was distracted by a call or text at the time of a car accident.
  • Presenting internal emails or memos from a company that acknowledges a product’s risk without taking corrective action.
  • Demonstrating a lack of proper training or certification in cases where specialized skills are required for safety.

Never forget that a professional is subject to more stringent duties than an amateur.

An Experienced Houston Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You Establish Breach of Duty

Proving a negligence claim can be easy, but often it is difficult. Naturally, it’s going to be especially difficult if you try to handle everything on your own-–or without the aid of an experienced lawyer. 

You don’t have to settle for an inexperienced lawyer just because you don’t have any money. Since your legal fees come out of your eventual recovery, you can hire an experienced Houston personal injury lawyer at Zehl & Associates Injury & Accident Lawyers, without a dime in your pocket. Contact us online or call (888) 603-3636.