What Is 'Standard Of Care' Under Tort Law? (2022)

Businesses and professionals generally have a duty to provide safe and knowledgeable services to their clients, suppliers, and customers. Citizens should be mindful of not acting in a way that harms someone they know, encounter, or simply come across, both in their professional lives and in their daily lives.

Essentially, in order to create a system of care and vigilance to prevent harm to others, it’s crucial to abide by professional norms, laws, and reasonableness. Furthermore, in negligence proceedings, this level of caution in preventing injury to others is referred to as a standard of care.

In this article, we look at the legal consequences of not upholding a duty of care or the appropriate standard of care.

How Does Standard of Care Apply in Our Everyday Lives?

A standard of care is the degree of care, caution, and judgment that a reasonable person would use in a specific situation. The standard of care’s scope and content will vary depending on a number of factors in tort law.

It is usually situation-specific, taking into account the parties’ relationship and the societal, legal, and professional norms imposed. Having stated that, a standard of care will only be applicable when there is close proximityand foreseeability between the parties, creating a duty of care.

Essentially, a duty of care may exist where the relationship between the parties is:

Two factors must be proven in order to establish a duty of care: one of foreseeability (if the person who caused the injury should have reasonably foreseen the general consequences that would arise from his or her action); and one of proximity (the relationship between the plaintiff and defendant).

(Video) The Standard of Care | Law of Tort

The following situations, for instance, can result in a duty of care between drivers on the road, a doctor and patient (professional liability), or an employer and an employee:

  • Drivers have a duty to take reasonable care to avoid causing foreseeable harm to other drivers on the road.
  • Medical professionals have a duty to take reasonable care to avoid causing foreseeable harm to their patients (this would result in medical malpractice cases).
  • Employers have a duty to take reasonable care to avoid causing foreseeable harm to employees.

How Is Standard of Care Determined?

After a duty of care has been established, the focus will shift to the degree of care that one party owes the other. Contextual factors, such as the nature of the relationship between the parties, are taken into account when determining the scope and nature of a standard of care.

Determining the standard of care in the case of a medical practitioner, for instance, will require understanding the professional context and identifying the doctor’s responsibilities. The answer may depend on the law, professional standards, advice from other doctors, employer manuals, and professional norms.

Usually, the type of behavior required to meet the standard of care is determined by a fact-based analysis that takes the following into account:

  • The likelihood of known or foreseeable care owed.
  • The gravity of that harm.
  • The cost that the party would incur to prevent the harm.
  • The ease with which foreseeable risks may have been avoided.

In essence, this is a standard of reasonableness. To determine whether a firm or professional has met their standard of care, it is essential to look into manuals, policies, inspection methods, and training.

Litmus Test for Everyday Decisions

It is difficult to create a one-size-fits-all test that will allow individuals, businesses, and professionals to determine the level of their standard of care because the standard of care is determined on a case-by-case basis.

There are a few examples that can be used to demonstrate how the duty of care and standard of care interplay in real-world situations. Drivers have a duty to drive safely around other vehicles, pedestrians, and passengers. In order to fulfill their duty of care, drivers must refrain from doing any actions that could reasonably be expected to harm other road users. The driver is thusrequired to follow the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) regulations as part of their duty of care.

(Video) Standard of Care for Children | Law of Tort

Another example could be the duty of care that nursing home organizations and staff have to their residents. The standard of care may be based on legislation, systems of vigilance, common sense, and industry-wide practices.

How Do I Respond When a Standard of Care Has Been Breached?

Ehline Law can assist you if you find yourself in a situation where a business, organization, or person has failed to fulfill their end of the contract. To assist you in deciding how to proceed with your case, we are pleased to offer you a free consultation.

Medical Standard of Care for a Reasonable Person

A standard of care is a guideline for medical or psychological care that may be general or specific. According to scientific information and cooperation between medical and/or psychological experts participating in the treatment of a certain condition, it describes the proper approach to treatment.

The reasonable person standard, or whether someone acted with the degree of care that a reasonable person would have under the circumstances, is the foundation of the standard of care. Additionally, the idea can be applied in some situations very easily.

In essence, an ordinary, cautious professional with the same training and experience who is in good standing in the same or a nearby community would practice at this level under the same or nearby conditions.

As an example, if a drug induces hallucinations in 50% of its users, a reasonable person would not drive after taking it in the same or similar circumstances. It would have been negligent for someone to operate a vehicle under those conditions. Other times, it’s more difficult to tell what’s going on. An argument may be made that a reasonable person could drive even if they had taken a drug that, in one in 1,000 cases, caused hallucinations.

The reasonable person’s standard of care is generally the only one that applies, but in some circumstances, another standard may be necessary. Based on what a reasonable child of the same age would do, children receive a lower standard ofcare than adults. The standards of care for professionals and those in positions of authority are higher or broader.

(Video) Tort of Negligence: Standard of Care

A doctor, for instance, will be evaluated in accordance with the reasonable expectations of a doctor for their medical work. Furthermore, a doctor or lawyer would get away with many things if evaluated according to reasonable person standards, hence, this distinction is necessary.

Why Is the Standard of Care Important to Medical Malpractice Cases?

Essentially, a medical malpractice case must assess the standard of care since it is essential in determining whether a doctor can be held accountable for a patient’s injuries.

The injured party or plaintiff will likely need to prove the following:

  • The standard of medical care that the physician owed the plaintiff under particular circumstances.
  • The doctor violated that standard of care.
  • The plaintiff suffered harm.
  • That the physician’s negligence caused or contributed to the plaintiff’s injuries.

To precisely identify whether or not a single patient was injured by a particular party’s act or omission, the standard of care can be difficult to determine and may require the testimony of numerous expert witnesses.

Furthermore, the standard of care is still a crucial issue in every single medical malpractice case.

How Is the Legal Definition of Standard of Care Determined?

The necessary standard of care is determined by assessing the performance and skills of medical practitioners working in close proximity to the accused doctor; the exact proximity is determined by each state.

Additionally, the standard of care in a given instance is determined by the expert testimony of practicing medical professionals in the field in which the in question physician is currently employed. A cardiologist, for instance, would be a suitable expert medical witness in a lawsuit involving unnecessary angioplasty but not in a case involving negligent spinal surgery.

(Video) What is 'Standard of Care' Under Tort Law?

The Standards to Which Doctors Are Held Liable

The “average practitioner” rule protects doctors while establishing a standard of care due to patients.

According to this theory, a doctor is not held accountable for medical malpractice where he or she made a simple mistake in judgment, or mistaken diagnosis, or even just when a treatment causes an undesirable outcome if they acted in accordance with the accepted standard of care.

The “reasonable practitioner” standard also raises questions about the method used to set the standard.

Essentially, the law has established rules for applying the reasonable practitioner standard in differing and the same circumstances. The “respected minority” or “two schools of thought” rule is an example of these types of rules.

This rule is based on the understanding that, even if the majority of competent practitioners may have accepted some parts of medical practice, this does not necessarily imply that alternative approaches are inherently negligent.

A “minority approach” to medicine can stem from alternative sets of legitimate judgments and determinations as to how best to treat patients in specific situations considering the state of medical research.

Therefore, the majority of states allow defendant physicians to argue the defense that the treatment paths they followed are recognized and respected alternatives for the common methods used by most physicians. The “respected minority” approach would not be negligent in any way.

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As an example, in one instance, a patient diedas a result of a severe adverse reaction to oral antibiotics given to him by his doctor, who had prescribed the medication because he thought the patient might soon have a heart attack. The plaintiff called expert witnesses who stated that the medicine should be given after a heart attack in order to lessen the effects.

In response, the defendant brought his own witnesses who claimed that the medicine had preventative uses and could legitimately be provided before a heart attack, despite the risks involved.

Contact Ehline Law Firm to Establish Tort Liability in a Civil Lawsuit and Learn More About Reasonable Care

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury as a result of negligence, it means that someone failed to act reasonably and is, therefore, liable for any injury that occurred. Discuss your case with a personal injury lawyer to determine how successful your case will be.


What is meant by standard of care? ›

A standard of care is a medical or psychological treatment guideline, and can be general or specific. It specifies appropriate treatment based on scientific evidence and collaboration between medical and/or psychological professionals involved in the treatment of a given condition.

What is duty of care in law of tort? ›

In tort law, a duty of care is a legal obligation that is imposed on an individual, requiring adherence to a standard of reasonable care while performing any acts that could foreseeably harm others. It is the first element that must be established to proceed with an action in negligence.

What is the general standard of care expected from a defendant? ›

The standard of care is defined as the measures that a reasonable person (in the circumstances of the defendant) take to reduce the risk of harm. This is an objective standard where the 'reasonable person' test is applied to determine if the defendant has breached their duty of care.

Who determines the standard of care? ›

The standard of care is developed by a complex network of doctors, medical researchers, government regulators, and writers for medical journals. Standards are not like laws, they are voted on once a year by elected doctors.

What is standard of care example? ›

What are examples of standard of care? Standard of care applies to determine if a healthcare provider was negligent. For example, a cardiologist would be expected to act with the same degree of care as a specialist who has similar training.

What are the four elements of standard of care? ›

It requires four conditions (elements) be met for the plaintiff to recover damages. These conditions are: duty; breach of duty; harm; and causation.

What is the difference between duty of care and standard of care? ›

Duty of care: The responsibility or legal obligation of a person or organization to avoid acts or omissions that could likely cause harm to others. Standard of care: Standard of care is only relevant when a duty of care has been established. The standard of care speaks to what is reasonable in the circumstances.

Why is duty of care important in torts? ›

A tort can occur when, under the law, one person owes another a duty of care but fails to fulfill that duty. Every person owes a duty to all other persons to use reasonable care to avoid causing injury to them or their property.

What are the 4 responsibilities of duty of care? ›

Duty of Care is about individual wellbeing , welfare, compliance and good practice.

What is the standard of care and how is it determined? ›

How is the standard of care established legally? The requisite standard of care is determined by evaluating the performance and abilities of physicians practicing near the physician accused of malpractice, the exact proximity is determined state by state.

What are the 5 standards of care? ›

The Standards are built upon five principles; dignity and respect, compassion, be included, responsive care and support and wellbeing.

What are the 7 standards of care? ›

The fundamental standards
  • Person-centred care. You must have care or treatment that is tailored to you and meets your needs and preferences.
  • Dignity and respect. ...
  • Consent. ...
  • Safety. ...
  • Safeguarding from abuse. ...
  • Food and drink. ...
  • Premises and equipment. ...
  • Complaints.
25 Aug 2022

What are the 8 standards of care? ›

The eight Standards are:
  • Consumer dignity and choice. What this means for you. ...
  • Ongoing assessment and planning. What this means for you. ...
  • Personal care and clinical care. ...
  • Services and supports for daily living. ...
  • Organisation's service environment. ...
  • Feedback and complaints. ...
  • Human resources. ...
  • Organisational governance.

How many standard of care are there? ›

CQC Standards – The 13 Fundamental Standards and How to Follow Them. Adhere to the CQC fundamental standards of quality and safety with essential guidance on compliance with the national care regulations for your next inspection. The 13 fundamental CQC standards explained below.

What does standard of care means in medical negligence cases? ›

Standard of care

Here, the degree means the level of care an ordinary health care professional, with the same training and experience, would render in similar circumstances in the same community.

What is an example of a duty of care? ›

Examples in Duty of Care

Dignified and courteous treatment. Your culture, diversity and identity are valued as well as supported. Living a life free of abuse and neglect. Your independence.

What is the Care Standards Act 2014? ›

The Care Act helps to improve people's independence and wellbeing. It makes clear that local authorities must provide or arrange services that help prevent people developing needs for care and support or delay people deteriorating such that they would need ongoing care and support.

What is negligence under duty of care? ›

What is negligence? In situations where one person owes another a duty of care, negligence is doing, or failing to do something that a reasonable person would, or would not, do and which causes another person damage, injury or loss as a result.

What are the two parts of duty of care? ›

Comprising two stages, the Anns test asked (1) whether a prima facie duty of care exists between the parties; and (2) if so, whether there are any residual policy considerations which should negate or limit the scope of the duty, the class of persons to whom it is owed or the damages to which a breach of it may give ...

What are the 6 standards of the triangle of care? ›

The six key standards state that: 1) Carers and the essential role they play are identified at first contact or as soon as possible thereafter. 2) Staff are 'carer aware' and trained in carer engagement strategies. 3) Policy and practice protocols regarding confidentiality and sharing information, are in place.

What are the 6 C's of care? ›

The 6 Cs of care
  • Care. Care is our core business and that of our organisations; and the care we deliver helps the individual person and improves the health of the whole community. ...
  • Compassion. ...
  • Competence. ...
  • Communication. ...
  • Courage. ...
  • Commitment.

What does standard of care mean and why is it important? ›

Standard of care can be defined as "…not a guideline or list of options; instead, it is a duty determined by a given set of circumstances that present in a particular patient, with a specific condition, at a definite time and place."2 In other words, standard of care is sensitive to time, place, and person.

What is the standard of care based on? ›

The standard of care may be based on shared practices within the industry, systems of vigilance, common sense, as well as statute.

What are the 10 principles of care? ›

Person-centred care is based on principles. (A principle is a particular approach to doing something.) The principles of care include choice, dignity, independence, partnership, privacy, respect, rights, safety, equality and inclusion, and confidentiality.

What are the 6 standards of care? ›

The fundamental standards
  • Person-centred care. You must have care or treatment that is tailored to you and meets your needs and preferences.
  • Dignity and respect. ...
  • Consent. ...
  • Safety. ...
  • Safeguarding from abuse. ...
  • Food and drink. ...
  • Premises and equipment. ...
  • Complaints.
25 Aug 2022

Who defines standard of care in nursing? ›

As defined by the American Nurses' Association (ANA), standards of nursing practice consist of three components: Professional standards of care define diagnostic, intervention, and evaluation competencies.

Why are standards of care important? ›

Standards of care in nursing are important because they recognize the trusted role that a nurse plays. These standards are considered the baseline for quality care. They must be developed while assessing the state and federal rules, regulations and laws that govern the practice of nursing.

What are the 7 core principles of care? ›

The principles of care include choice, dignity, independence, partnership, privacy, respect, rights, safety, equality and inclusion, and confidentiality.

What are the 15 standards of care? ›

There are 15 Care Certificate standards that practitioners must adhere to:
  • Understand your role.
  • Your personal development.
  • Duty of care.
  • Equality and diversity.
  • Work in a person-centred way.
  • Communication.
  • Privacy and dignity.
  • Fluids and nutrition.


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