A duty of care is the legal obligation or responsibility to take all reasonable steps to avoid causing foreseeable harm to another person or their property.
A breach of duty of care is when that legal obligation to protect the wellbeing and safety of others is not upheld and somebody is injured or harmed.
To understand whether there has been a breach of duty of care, there are two important things to consider:
When a duty of care owed to you is breached and you’re injured as a result, you may be able to claim compensation.
An expert personal injuries lawyer can help you prove that the person or party responsible for the duty of care was negligent, and they can be sued for damages.
If you are injured due to a breach of duty of care, financial compensation for damages can cover things like:
All employers have a duty of care to their workers. We all have the right to a safe workplace, which includes occupational health and safety protocols, PPE, regular maintenance of equipment, and protecting employees from discrimination and harassment.
Professionals are responsible for taking all reasonable steps to protect their clients/customers/patients' wellbeing and safety. Depending on the profession, the duty of care can involve different things.
Some examples of duty of care in a professional relationship are:
There are many situations in our everyday lives where a duty of care might apply. Some of these include:
To fulfil all duty of care obligations, people or organisations must take all reasonable steps to prevent harm, avoid injury and ensure the safety and wellbeing of others.
In Australia, duty of care is mostly governed by common law principles and statutory laws and regulations specific to certain industries or jobs.
Those responsible for a duty of care can be legally liable for any breach of their duty to prevent foreseeable harm to others.
If a duty of care is breached and harm or damages occur as a result, the responsible person or party may be subject to legal action and potential financial compensation claims.
To assess whether a duty of care has been breached, the following factors are important to consider:
To establish duty of care, the key elements include:
These factors collectively establish the legal obligation to take reasonable steps to prevent harm to others.
An example of a duty of care is when a supermarket has the legal obligation to protect all customers from hazards such as a slippery floor. If the floor is slippery and it has not been cordoned off or adequately signed to warn customers of the hazard, the supermarket is breaching their duty of care to prevent foreseeable harm to their customers.
Everybody has the right to feel safe at work. Employers have a legal responsibility to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of their employees – this is their duty of care.
Keeping employees safe includes providing a safe working environment, implementing appropriate safety measures and procedures, providing necessary training, and monitoring and addressing any potential hazards or risks.
Employers must also always protect employees from discrimination, harassment, and any other harmful behaviours.
A care worker’s duty of care is to the individuals under their care. This includes healthcare workers, medical practitioners, disability support workers and aged care workers. They are responsible for the wellbeing, safety, and overall quality of care for the person or people in their care. This can involve providing appropriate medical attention, administering medication correctly, ensuring physical and emotional needs are met, and safeguarding from any foreseeable harm or abuse.
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