While the size of the personal injury market may have declined of late, it’s forecast to enjoy renewed growth through the next two years.

More specifically, the market size shrunk by 1.5% to £3.92 billion in 2020, before flatlining for much of the following year. However, it’s projected to increase by 2% in 2022, before rebounding even more strongly by 4% next year.

One of the key concepts in this deceptively complex market is the so-called “duty of care”. But what does this refer to and why is it so important?

What is a Duty of Care?

In layman terms, a ‘duty of care’ refers to the legal obligation of a business or service providers to keep their customers and employees safe from harm.

While this may sound like a relatively vague definition, it’s typically applied to instances where employees or customers are injured on-site or in-store. For example, if a customer slips and injures themselves on a wet floor that isn’t adequately marked, the business will have failed in their duty care and put themselves at risk of a personal injury claim.

The latter point is key, as businesses must have showcased some kind of demonstrable negligence in the build-up to the incident. So, if the wet floor was adequately marked and segregated and the customer still incurred an injury, the business may not be at fault as it followed all reasonable protocols to safeguard consumers.

We’ll touch more on this below, but it’s worth reiterating that a duty of care is a legal requirement for businesses and not something that can be opted out of.

How Are Duty of Care Requirements Applied in Different Workplaces

While all businesses have a duty of care to their customers and employees, how this applied will vary from one workplace to another.

For example, there are two reasonable expectations that you can place on pubs and restaurants. Firstly, they’ll have to ensure that their premises is completely free of all immediate hazards, including tripping risks, split drinks and broken glass.

Secondly, owners and managers must ensure that all food and beverages sold are safe to consume, minimising the risk of subsequent illness.

In the case of goods providers and merchants, their duty of care requires them to sell safe and compliant items that don’t pose any kind of immediate threat. Similarly, they must sell products that are fit for purpose and compliant with the relevant trading standards or run the risk of future claims.

This is particularly important in the face of electrical items, which must be safe to use and not pose any kind of fire hazard at all.

Why is the Duty of Care Important for Personal Injury Claims?

As we’ve already touched on, the duty of care is critical from the perspective of personal injury claims, as it helps to establish whether or not a particular business should be held accountable for an accident.

More specifically, businesses can be targeted by claimants if they’re proven to be negligent, as this means that they’ve objectively failed in their duty of care.

However, accidents that occur directly as a result of the customer or employee in question cannot form the basis of a personal injury claim, as the business has either upheld their duty of care or the contrary cannot be demonstrated in a court of law.

Similarly, injuries that occur in your home or due to the actions of a friend or relative cannot qualify for personal injury claims. This is because such individuals don’t have a duty of care towards you, at least not from the perspective of the law.