Duty of care in personal injury claims
Duty of care in personal injury claims

The following PI & Clinical Negligence practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Duty of care in personal injury claims
  • Examples of established relationships
  • Establishing a duty of care in novel situations
  • Control mechanisms
  • Psychiatric injury
  • Omissions
  • Public authorities

This Practice Note will consider the common law duty of care. For information on statutory duties, see Practice Note: Breach of statutory duty and the overlap with the common law.

For guidance on vicarious liability, see Practice Notes: Nature and operation of vicarious liability, Scope and impact of vicarious liability and Vicarious liability in the course of employment—the close connection test.

For information on the duty of care in clinical negligence claims, see Practice Note: Duty of care and breach in clinical negligence claims.

For a claimant to succeed in proving their claim in common law negligence they must first prove that the defendant owed them a duty of care.

Examples of established relationships

When assessing whether a duty of care exists, the court will consider whether there is an established precedent for the relationship between the parties and follow the precedents unless it is necessary to consider whether they should be departed from.

Common examples of situations where it is established that a duty of care is owed include:

  1. road users to other road users (see Practice Note: Duties of the road user)

  2. employers to employees (see Practice Note: The employer’s duty of care)

  3. occupiers of premises to visitors (see Practice Note: Occupiers’ liability claims—lawful visitors)

  4. manufacturers to consumers (see Practice Note: Product liability—claims in negligence)

  5. professionals to their clients

  6. parents/teachers/guardians to children (see Practice Note: Claims against schools)


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