Nursing and the Law

Essay by JosyUniversity, Bachelor'sD+, July 2006

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In this paper I will be discussing duty of care, non-delegable duty of care, causation, damages, vicarious liability, and damages. I will be discussing them all briefly as they are all large topics. All of these topics fall under the heading of negligence. Negligence is a torte, or a civil wrong. Under civil common law, negligence is an ingredient of many non-intentional torts or wrongs that one individual suffers because of the nonfeasance, misfeasance or malfeasance of another. Negligence is the failure to not take reasonable care and failure to avoid injury or loss to another individual. In a court of law there are four steps to proving negligence. The plaintiff must prove:

* That there is a duty to take care in the circumstances at hand (duty of care).

* What the standards are that a person should meet in these circumstances (standard of care).

* That both the inaction and behavior of the defendant did not meet the legal standard of care (breach of duty).

* That the plaintiff suffered injury or loss that the reasonable person in the circumstances could foresee and also could have reasonably avoided (damage) (Legal Services Commission of South Australia, 2004).


An obligation that a sensible person would use in the circumstances when acting towards others and the public. If the actions of a person are not made with watchfulness, attention, caution, and prudence, their actions are considered negligent. Consequently, the resulting damages may be claimed as negligence in a lawsuit.

For a plaintiff (the injured person or patient) to establish that negligence has occurred against the defendant, the plaintiff needs to show the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff. Duty of Care is determined by Common Law which is case law developed through the courts...