Duty of care is a legal term referring to the obligation to comply with a certain standard of conduct to protect someone from unreasonable risk of harm.
In a personal injury or negligence case, you must be able to prove the person (or entity) that did the injuring — the defendant — had a duty to care; you must be able to show there was legal obligation to act in a reasonable manner.
Last summer, an Asiana Airlines plane carrying 307 passengers crashed at the airport in San Francisco. Three teenagers were killed.
One of the teens, however, did not die in the crash. She was killed after being run over by — not one, but two — rescue vehicles. It is not clear why her body was lying on the runway or how it had gotten there, but an autopsy revealed that she was alive before being run over.
The girl’s family has sued the city of San Francisco, claiming that 37 of its airport, fire and police department employees had breached their duty of care. The suit states the rescue workers should have examined the girl and moved her to a safe spot during the rescue operation instead of assuming she was already dead. (Read more about the case here.)
The rescue workers and others absolutely had a duty to care, according to Virginia personal injury lawyer Doug Landau.
“Caring for the injured is what rescue workers do! And because the workers were employed by the City of San Francisco, the city itself also had a responsibility to ensure those workers were up to the task of upholding that duty. An innocent teen was killed when the people who were supposed to help her and others not only failed to do so, but actually caused her death.”