Taking Care When You Undertake Care: Restatement 324A Claims, Explained
As a business owner, your work to prevent personal injury or wrongful death claims does not end when you warn appropriate parties of possible dangers, vet your supply chain partners or purchase the right insurance coverage. Even if you proactively try to create a safe business environment, you may still be vulnerable to what are known as Restatement 324A claims.
The Voluntary Undertaking Doctrine: What It Is And Why It Matters
Restatement 324A claims, named for their location in the legal reference work the American Restatement of Torts, Second, relate to what is known as the “voluntary undertaking” doctrine. Simply put, if a person or business undertakes to provide services (either as a volunteer or for pay) that could impact a third party, they must provide those services with due care. It is not enough to play the role of good samaritan and take actions intended to better a third party’s condition — those actions must be performed in a way that is not reckless or negligent.
Examples Of Potential Restatement 324A Claims
Restatement 324A claims can appear in many situations involving business or commerce, including the following examples from recent cases:
- Crisis counselors ensure that a client suffering from alcohol poisoning is treated in the emergency room, but do not disclose that the client consumed a cleaning product containing menthol, and the client goes blind as a result. The counselors undertook the duty to procure treatment for the client and had a duty to use due care in doing so.
- A store contracts with an electrician to repair a loose light fixture, but a store customer is later injured by the fixture hitting him. The electrician undertook the duty to make the repair and in doing so took on a duty to do it safely.
At McMickle, Kurey and Branch, LLP we can give you advice on avoiding exposure to Restatement 324A claims. If you are already faced with such a claim, our attorneys can help you mount a strong, evidence-based defense.