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What is duty and breach in an Illinois industrial accident?

We have briefly explored the basics of the concept of negligence in the context of accidents involving motor vehicles. However, the theory of negligence can be used in Illinois in cases above and beyond car wrecks. In the context of an injury related to an industrial accident, for instance, it is quite possible that someone not following the rules, or an employer not being responsible for worker safety in some manner, has led to the situation in which a worker finds themselves seriously injured. In such cases, receiving compensation for their injuries may require a victim to show that the other party had a duty to the victim, breached that duty, and that the breach was both the direct and foreseeable cause of the damage that occurred to the victim.

The first of these above elements, duty, is one of the most important. A legal duty is the responsibility an individual or entity owes to another individual or entity. Usually, this duty requires that the one owing the duty either take an action or refrain from doing so. This duty can be either general or contextual. For example, an employer generally has a duty to maintain a safe work environment for its employees. However, what constitutes 'a safe environment' may vary from industry to industry or site to site, depending on circumstances and personnel.

The main question asked when attempting to determine if a duty was breached in such instances is whether the defendant acted as a 'reasonable person' would have in the same situation. In the case of industrial accidents, this may mean finding out if any safety regulations were violated or if someone involved in the accident didn't follow proper guidelines. It might also mean asking if the employer exercised reasonable care in overseeing a certain place of business to ensure that those stationed there were taking appropriate precautions.

While this may seem simple, negligence cases do not hinge on this one aspect. Whether a legal duty existed and was breached is a foundational part of a negligence case, but causation and proof of damage are also necessary. When it comes to industrial accidents, there may be more than one way to recover compensation, so Illinois residents injured in such incidents may wish to consider speaking with an experienced personal injury lawyer to determine the best way forward.

Source: FindLaw, "Standards of Care and the 'Reasonable Person'," accessed October 1, 2017

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