Duty of Care in Business Law

What is Duty of Care in Negligence?

Duty of care exists when the defendant and the claimant are in a special relationship such as employer-employee, master-servant, manufacturer-consumer and doctor-patient relationships (Cooke, 2009). In this case, a person should take reasonable care to avoid actions or omissions that may cause reasonable injury to another person to whom she owes that responsibility.

Donaghue v. Stevenson

Duty of care can be illustrated in Donaghue v. Stevenson whereby the claimant became ill after taking ginger beer from a bottle that had a snail (Chapman, 2010). There was no contract because the customer had not bought the bottle. However, under the law of tort the manufacturer was required to exercise duty of care towards his customers (due to the special manufacturer-consumer relationship), and should have prevented the injury. The duty of care can be established by examining situations of previous case laws.

Breach of Duty of Care

Duty of care was breached if the defendant could reasonably have predicted the risk; if it was significant; and if a reasonable person in a similar position would have taken necessary precautions (Cartwright, 2007). In the example of Donaghue v. Stevenson, the manufacturer would reasonably predict the risk because insects and other small animals are found everywhere. The risk was also significant because it caused illness. Lastly, a reasonable manufacturer in a similar situation would have taken precautions by inspecting all bottles before serving beer.

The damage is direct and foreseeable if the damage occurred as a result of the defendant’s conduct or omission; and whether the defendant’s negligence was a necessary element of the occurrence of damage (Cooke, 2009). The defendant should foresee damage which directly results from him or her. In the case of Donaghue v. Stevenson, the defendant should have foreseen the damage because he manufactured and allowed the drink to be served.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *