In order for someone to be found negligent in a personal injury claim, that individual is compared to the standard of care of a “reasonable person,” or sometimes referred to as the “reasonable person standard.” What separates an accident from a negligent act is whether or not a defendant breached the standard of care required by a reasonable person in a particular situation. When the defendant neglects this standard, he or she could be found liable for any injuries and damages that result.
What is a “Reasonable Person” Under the Law?
Unfortunately, the law is not clear as to what constitutes a reasonable or unreasonable person; this makes a personal injury claim very complex. The “reasonable person” is more abstract and open to interpretation. A reasonable person is the ideal type of person. The law focuses on how a person should act or react to a situation. To test if a defendant acted reasonably, he or she is compared to the ordinary prudence of another. It has nothing to do with the defendant’s mental intelligence; for this reason, even those suffering from chronic mental issues could potentially be compared to the reasonable person standard.
In most personal injury cases, it is up to the jury. They decide how a reasonable person would react in a situation. By making such decisions, the jury will consider the defendant’s conduct before, during and after the incident, as well as the defendant’s knowledge during the case.
How the Reasonable Person Standard might be Used
For example, imagine that the defendant was supervising children on a playground. The defendant observed the fact that one of the swings had a loose chain. But nevertheless, they allowed children to play on that swing. The swing broke, the child fell and suffered from a severe brain injury. Because the defendant had prior knowledge of something wrong with the playground equipment but failed to protect the child from what was a seemingly obvious threat of injury, he or she could be considered negligent. If a reasonable person would have had the child avoid the broken swing rather than risk injury, the same is expected of the defendant.
In addition to what the defendant did or did not know, the jury will also consider knowledge that is common to the community. For example, if a defendant should have clearly known better out of “common knowledge,” he or she could be considered negligent. Even if the defendant couldn’t predict the swing would break, it is common knowledge to assume that a broken swing is a hazard and, therefore, should be avoided.
Do You Have a Personal Injury Claim? Speak with Us Today
If you have a personal injury claim or you think someone has breached the standard of care, contact the personal injury team at Hancock Injury Attorneys today. We offer free case evaluations and can assess your case during a consultation appointment. Schedule your appointment at 813-915-1110 or chat live online with your questions.