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Duty - Law 101

Hello, I'm attorney Kyle Bachus. The legal world is full of overly complicated jargon and terminology that can be intimidating if you don't know what it means. In my law 101 video series, I'm breaking down some commonly used legal terms so you can be informed and confident should you ever need to take legal action.

In this episode of law 101, we're going to break down the legal term duty.

In some of our other videos, we talked about negligence, and we talked about the tort of negligence and the duty to act as a reasonable person under the same or similar circumstances. So as we go around and interact with people on a day to day basis, we all have a duty under the law to act reasonably with our interactions with others. And if you act unreasonable and cause harm to somebody, then you could have breached this duty.

But duty can be imposed in other circumstances, and in some circumstances, it doesn't exist at all. Let me describe what I'm talking about. Number one, let's talk about imposed duties. An employer/employee, a duty is imposed on the employer for the actions of their employee. Even though they may not be the actor if the employee is acting within the course and scope of employment.

You may have a duty imposed, let's say by an airline; those are special carriers. If you run a train or are on a plane, there's a duty that's imposed because they're a common carrier. They have a duty owed to you to act reasonably. Even if they wouldn't otherwise interact with you, the airline itself, for instance. Some situations don't have a duty; in fact, in most states, there's no duty to rescue.

If you saw something happening where somebody else was being exposed to harm, and you failed to intervene, you don't have a duty to go rescue somebody from something that has occurred. There's a big exception to that one, though, and that is if you caused the harm, then you do have a duty to rescue or a duty to help. So if you hurt somebody, let's say you're driving your car and you cause a collision, you actually have a duty to stay and render assistance to those that you might have harmed.

That's a specially imposed duty. Duty is this obligation we all have to one another in society. Sometimes there's a duty that can be imposed; sometimes, it doesn't exist. But in almost all of our interactions every day, we have to act reasonably towards others, and we can be accountable in civil court if we violate that duty owed to others, and we cause harm to them.

If you have questions about a particular situation that you're involved in, where you believe somebody had a duty to act reasonably towards you, and they violated that duty. And you have questions about whether that can serve as a basis for a civil case, we're happy to talk with you at Bachus & Schanker and answer further questions about this. To learn more about other law topics that can help you feel informed and confident about the law, make sure to check out more videos in this series.

Check Out More Videos In Our Law 101 Series

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