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What does standard of care mean?

If you are hurt in the state of California as a result of another party's negligence, you might have heard of the phrase "standard of care." It is a term that people should be familiar with because it refers to the responsibility that individuals have to their fellow human beings as they go about their daily lives. A failure to live up to a standard of care could create significant legal trouble for the person who neglects this duty.

It is important to distinguish the idea of standard of care from a simple freak accident. Not everything that happens around us is within our direct control, so accidents can happen. The difference is that, according to FindLaw, if you are not exercising a reasonable standard of care, you are not exercising the proper control and judgment that someone in your situation would be called to perform.

Take your workplace for instance. If you are working with dangerous equipment, you would be expected to use the machinery in accord with proper safety standards and sound judgment. However, if you were to neglect the right use of the equipment and cause a fellow worker on the jobsite to get hurt, you could be held liable because you did not exercise the right standard of care.

Similarly, when driving on a California road, you are expected to obey the traffic laws and be vigilant for other drivers, red lights, stop signs and pedestrians. Reckless driving, such as speeding or flagrant disregard for the safety of nearby motorists, would be a violation of a motorist's standard of care. So if an auto accident was to occur and another party was injured, the person who did not exercise a right standard of care would likely be held responsible.

Children, however, are typically not held to a reasonable standard of care since society does not view children as possessing the same competence that adults have. California courts would judge the actions of children against the behavior of their peers, of children that possess similar intelligence, experience and are the same age. However, there may be some courts that will judge children against adult standards if those children partake in the same activities as adults, like driving an automobile.

Keep in mind that since standards of care differ depending on the situation, you should not take this article as giving you any legal advice. Its purpose is to inform readers on the concept of standard of care as it relates to personal injury.

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