Duty of Care and Standard of Care

October 28th, 2022
Gosai Law

This article seeks to describe and distinguish between a duty of care and a standard of care. The former is an obligation that arises in certain contexts. The latter is the level of care that a reasonable person would exercise in a particular circumstance and only exists when a duty of care has first been established.

When does a Duty of Care exist? 

To establish a duty of care, there must be a relationship of proximity in which the failure to take reasonable care might foreseeably cause loss or harm to the plaintiff. Once foreseeability and proximity have been proven, a prima face duty of care is established. Whether or not something is “reasonably foreseeable” is an objective test that involves determining whether the party who caused the injury should have reasonably foreseen the consequences of their conduct. Proximity involves looking at the relationship between the parties and determining whether or not they are sufficiently close and direct. An everyday example would be that all drivers owe other drivers and pedestrians a duty of care to drive responsibly and avoid accidents.

How is a Standard of Care Determined?

Once it has been established that the party causing injury did indeed owe a duty of care, there must also be a breach in the standard of care. This is determined by looking at whether the party causing injury fell below what an ordinary, reasonable, cautious, and prudent person would do when faced with similar circumstances. The measure of what is reasonable depends on the facts of each case, including the likelihood of known or foreseeable harm, the gravity of that harm, and the burden or cost which would be incurred to prevent the injury. In addition, one may look to external indicators of reasonable conduct, such as custom, industry practice, and statutory or regulatory standards.


Although duty of care and standard of care are similar terms, they have distinct definitions and legal tests that need to be satisfied. If you are in any kind of accident, it is crucial to determine whether a duty of care was owed and breached, and whether or not that breach caused your injury or loss. If such an accident does occur, contact a lawyer at Gosai Law at (905) 595-2225 or email, who will help you understand the nuances of your claim and move your case forward.

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