Duty-Risk Analysis of Negligence

January 28, 2006

This court has adopted a duty-risk analysis to determine whether liability exists under the particular facts presented. Under this analysis the plaintiff must prove that the conduct in question was the cause-in-fact of the resulting harm, the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff, the requisite duty was breached by the defendant and the risk of harm was within the scope of protection afforded by the duty breached. Under the duty-risk analysis, all four inquiries must be affirmatively answered for plaintiff to recover.

A threshold issue in any negligence action is whether the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty. Whether a duty is owed is a question of law. In deciding whether to impose a duty in a particular case, the court must make a policy decision in light of the unique facts and circumstances presented. The court may consider various moral, social, and economic factors, including the fairness of imposing liability; the economic impact on the defendant and on similarly situated parties; the need for an incentive to prevent future harm; the nature of defendant’s activity; the potential for an unmanageable flow of litigation; the historical development of precedent; and the direction in wich society and its institutions are evolving.

Posecai v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 752 So.2d 762, 765-766, (La. 1999).
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