Legal Guide

Public liability, the duty of care and the responsibilities of businesses

All these legal terms can be confusing especially after an accident and whilst looking for legal advice. To clarify, almost everyone has responsibilities which are to prevent actions that can harm others. For doctors, this duty is to treat the patient at acceptable standards. For employers, the duty is to keep the workplace and the workers safe. For businesses that are active in the service sector, the duty is to keep the business place and the products safe, so that nobody will be harmed. The duty of care covers all these responsibilities and enforces the public liability with strict rules which cannot be violated. If breached and if the other party is harmed, the party that owes the duty will be liable for the damages. This can be a medical professional in a medical centre, a business, an employer or a motor vehicle driver.

In which situations the duty of care is breached?

After an accident, the victim is likely to get legal advice to start a claim against the liable party. However, liability should be determined and the claimant should have a legit reason to manage a successful claim. The duty of care relates to being responsible for the other party’s safety. To give an example, in a nightclub, the business hosts the visitors. The nightclub’s duty is to sustain the safety and wellbeing of the visitors during their visit. This can be done by maintaining the nightclub correctly, solving the problems that can be risky to the visitors and ensuring the products served to the visitors are in good conditions. As an example, the visitor might need to visit the restroom. However, dim lights can decrease the vision of the visitor. This can be especially risky if the restrooms aren’t in good condition. Water can leak from the pipes, the ground can be slippery and other countless events can pose an additional risk to the visitor. Combined with the lack of lighting, the visitor can step on the slippery floor, fall and can take damage. This is a situation that could be foreseen by the business as the risk posed in the situation is obvious to the business but not to the victim. For this reason, the business will be liable for the victim’s loss. The loss can be economic or non-economic, in either situation a compensation can be awarded to the victim.

In accidents in public places, the obvious risk factor is what determines liability

These public places can be a hospital, a community park, a restaurant or an elementary school. Places that are accessible by the public is determined as a public place. However, not on every occasion the victim can claim compensation. As an example, universally, playing with fire is known as a dangerous activity. There are even sayings that demonstrate how natural the risk is in the activity. In an event like a bonfire festival, the attendants are expected to act responsibly. If you leap over flames and suffer burn injuries, the accident is likely to be your fault. In this situation, public liability compensation cannot be awarded to the claimant.

On the other hand, supervision can sometimes be the determining factor in public liability claims. In schools and other forms of educational institutions where services are being provided to children, lack of supervision can result in liability. As a child’s mental maturity is less than others, the appointed attendants should supervise the children to protect them from accidents. Depending on the country, state and situation, similar situations can be a valid reason to claim public liability compensation.

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