The reasonable person standard is a common tool used in legal cases. The purpose is to provide a comparison of how the average reasonable person would act in a similar scenario. This is very useful when trying to determine fault in a personal injury claim.
Below, our experienced personal injury lawyers in Fort Worth discuss details about the reasonable person standard and how it is used to establish negligence in an injury claim.
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What is the Reasonable Person Standard in Texas?
In a legal case, the reasonable person standard uses a hypothetical person to illustrate how a typical person would respond in the same situation. For a judge and jury, this is very useful because it helps to paint a visual of what a reasonable person might do in a similar scenario and under the same circumstances.
This does not mean that the defendant would have to do everything exactly the same as this “hypothetical” person. It is just a starting point attorneys use to build a case for negligence.
How Does the Reasonable Person Standard Apply in Real Life?
When looking at a situation, the attorney would need to prove that the defendant did not act as a reasonable person would. If that can be proven, then the attorney can show how the defendant’s actions led to the accident that caused your injuries and damages.
For instance, say a driver ran a red light and slammed into your vehicle, and you sustained severe injuries and multiple damages as a result. In this situation, your attorney would need to show how a reasonable person would have obeyed the law and stopped at the red light. In that scenario, the accident and your injuries were directly caused by a negligent driver who did not behave as a reasonable person would.
Some other examples of how a reasonable person would act:
- A landlord who takes steps to ensure his or her property is secure, well-lit and properly maintained is behaving reasonably. These actions can help to reduce the risk of injuries to any tenants.
- Domestic dog owners may reasonably keep their pets on a leash in public or lock up an aggressive pet at home when receiving visitors.
- Reasonable shop owners take steps to make sure spills are identified and cleaned up quickly to help prevent the possibility of a slip and fall.
- Reasonable vehicle owners properly maintain and service their cars to reduce the risk of a tire blowout, brake failure or other mechanical issues that could lead to a crash and harm someone.
Is the Reasonable Person Standard Applied Equally in Every Injury Case?
The reasonable person in an injury claim is hypothetical and based on the specific case at hand. This means the standard is created based on the circumstances of a case.
For example, the reasonable standard for a child who gets injured after trespassing on private property will not be the same as it would be for an adult.
Additional factors need to be considered in that scenario or any situation involving a child. Individuals who have a reduced mental capacity, such as an elderly person with dementia, would also likely be held to a lesser standard.
Are There Other Exceptions That May Apply to the Reasonable Person Standard?
The reasonable person standard is used to apply where the defendant can reasonably foresee how his or her actions could cause harm to someone. However, it if is not possible to foresee a danger, then that person may not be deemed negligent.
There are situations that are sometimes out of our control that could end up causing someone to get injured.
One example of this might be if a pedestrian ran into the road suddenly and without warning. In that situation, the driver would likely not have been able to stop in time.
How Will My Attorney Prove the Reasonable Person Standard?
Your attorney will use the reasonable person standard to prove negligence. The way he or she does this will vary depending on the case, circumstances and other factors.
Using the example of a pedestrian suddenly darting into the road, there are considerations a jury might consider, such as:
- Was the driver paying attention and going at the posted speed limit?
- Did the driver ignore any traffic signs or signals?
- Was the driver approaching a crossing area and required to slow down?
- Did the driver make any attempt to brake or stop the vehicle?
Using this legal tool can help an attorney for the injured victim establish that the other party was negligent in some way. If there is no negligence, then there is no case.
Need Help Proving Your Injury Case?
At Anderson & Cummings, we are prepared to fully investigate the accident that caused your injuries and determine your legal options. If you have a case and we represent you, we will work hard to recover the maximum possible compensation.
You may be eligible to recover compensation for your medical costs, lost wages, property damages, pain and suffering and more. Call our law offices today, or anytime, night or day, to learn more. There is nothing to pay up front or while we manage your case. We only get paid our fees if we win your case.
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