What Is Considered a “Reasonable Person” When It Comes To Negligence?
Ryan Zavodnick | January 19, 2023 | Personal Injury
In legal terms, a “reasonable person” is someone who behaves with the same care, caution, and judgment that an ordinary person would under similar circumstances. When dealing with negligence cases, the question of what a reasonable person would do becomes particularly important. It helps establish an individual’s liability for any damages caused by their actions or inaction.
What Is Negligence?
Negligence is defined as failing to take proper care in doing something, resulting in harm or damage to another person. This can include any action or lack of action that results in injury or harm– whether intentional or not – and can include physical, emotional, financial, or other types of damages.
In order for a person or company to be considered negligent, four elements must be present: duty of care (the responsibility to act reasonably), breach of duty (failing to meet the standard of care), causation (proving that the breach caused the injury), and damages (injuries and financial losses suffered by the victim).
What Is the Reasonable Person Standard?
The reasonable person standard is a legal concept that refers to a hypothetical figure with qualities representing an ordinary, prudent, and sensible person. The purpose of this standard is to provide guidance when determining whether someone acted negligently in a given situation. This figure helps set the expectation for how individuals should behave in similar situations.
The jury will assess whether an individual’s conduct is equal to what a reasonable person in similar circumstances would do—not if they acted perfectly.
For example, you’re driving on a highway at night and come across an unexpected pothole that causes your car to skid off the road. You may be able to file a claim against the municipality responsible for maintaining the roads.
In this case, courts would look at how a hypothetical reasonable person would have handled the problems with the road – such as fixing it in a timely manner or placing a sign warning of the danger. If the municipality failed to take either of these actions and you were injured/suffered damages as a result, they could be found liable for any damages caused by their negligence.
How Does the Reasonable Person Standard Affect Your Personal Injury Claim?
Understandably, many people want to know what qualifies as “reasonable” to better understand how their claim might be affected by the reasonable person standard. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer—it all depends on the specific facts of your case.
Generally speaking, for someone to be held liable for negligence, their conduct must have been unreasonable when compared to how a hypothetical reasonable person would have acted under similar circumstances.
In other words, if a reasonable person would have known about or taken steps to prevent harm from occurring but the defendant did not do so, they may be found liable for any injury or damage caused by their negligent behavior.
Minors and the Reasonable Person Standard
When assessing liability for injuries caused by minors, several factors come into play. The court must decide if the child acted as a reasonable person in their age group would have under similar circumstances – taking into account any special needs or disabilities. And if so, would the injury still have been foreseeable?
Although courts consider age and experience when determining liability in civil cases involving minors, this doesn’t mean that all minors are exempt from responsibility for their actions. They should be held to a more lenient standard than adults, given their limited maturity and understanding of the risks and consequences associated with certain behaviors.
Contact a Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer for Help Proving Your Negligence Claim
Understanding these concepts will help you determine if you are eligible to seek damages through a personal injury claim. If you believe you suffered injuries because of another person’s negligence and need help navigating your next steps, contact a Philadelphia personal injury attorney today for a free consultation.
To learn more and get the help you deserve, call Zavodnick & Lasky Personal Injury Lawyers at (215) 875-7030 or contact us online.
You can also visit our law firm at 123 S Broad St #1220, Philadelphia, PA 19109.