You May Unknowingly Assume Duty and Be Found Liable in An Accident

In many cases, a defendant’s first line of defense is arguing that it owed no duty to the plaintiff and it therefore cannot be found liable as a matter of law. In the construction field, this argument is often refuted by pointing to contractual language that places responsibilities for safety on the defendant. In other situations, the plaintiff can show that the defendant owed a duty under common law; for example, in a motor vehicle accident, the defendant driver owes a duty to all other persons on the roadway and those that may be affected by the defendant driver’s operation of the vehicle, to operate the vehicle in a reasonable and safe manner. In some situations, however, there may be no applicable contractual duties and no general common law that applies to the defendant. In these situations, the plaintiff is not completely out of luck, and may argue that the defendant assumed a duty that it did not originally owe, and subsequently negligently carried out that duty.

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