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Does the plaintiff have to be owed duty of care for negligence to become liable?

Columbus, OH |

Let's say the plaintiff (A) is filing a lawsuit against B. B breached a duty of care for one of his customers, which happens to be a relative of A. Let's call that relative C; and C ends up in hospital because of some rather serious injuries - which then results in a coma.
A is unsure if liability of negligence applies to his case since B did not owe A a duty of care, but to C.
Yet, since C isn't the plaintiff and cannot file the lawsuit because of his current vegetative state, would A still be eligible to say B enacted negligence in A's lawsuit?

I have personally heard that liability for negligence only works if the plaintiff is owed the duty of care; never have I heard that when the plaintiff representing someone else.

Attorney Answers 5


If A is a guardian, then he steps into C's shoes.

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Someone like A can apply to court to be appointed either Guardian ad Litem for the incompetent party that was injured, or conservator of the person.

Then A sues in a representative capacity.

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Someone would need to file suit on C's behalf. A spouse would qualify to do so or a parent if C was a minor. If neither applies than someone would need to petition to be C's guardian.

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Negligence requires four elements, duty, breach, cause and harm in its most basic fundamental analysis. This is a marketing and informational website. My recommendation is to take this out of the hypothetical and to consult with an attorney. I do not believe duty is the issue here, but rather authority.

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Law Offices of Andrew D. Myers, North Andover, MA & Derry, NH provide answers for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be given by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction, thoroughly familiar with the area of the law in which your concern lies. This creates no attorney-client relationship.

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It is impossible to answer based on this hypothetical. You should consult with a reputable personal injury attorney. In Ohio, a probate court can appoint a guardian over somebody who is not competent (i.e. in a chronic vegitative state) to act on the incompetent person's behalf.

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