What is Considered a “Reasonable Person” When it Comes to Negligence?
Bill Allen | December 22, 2021 | Negligence
Negligence is the legal basis for many personal injury lawsuits. A person is negligent when they fail to act as a reasonable person and injure another party.
You’ll need to show that this reasonable person standard was violated in order to succeed in your personal injury claim.
The Reasonable Person Standard
The reasonable person standard is an objective standard to determine whether a defendant was negligent. It generally doesn’t account for the differences between each individual person, such as age or intelligence. Instead, the standard requires each person to act reasonably in the specific circumstances of each case.
A reasonable person is simply a person of ordinary intelligence and ability, acting with ordinary care. It is a hypothetical person, not a real person.
Examples of Unreasonable Behavior
The following behaviors may be considered unreasonable under the circumstances:
- Speeding, running stop signs, failing to yield, or breaking other traffic laws.
- Failing to drive with appropriate caution during inclement weather.
- Failure of a store employee to clean up a spill or put up a “wet floor” sign when he is aware of the spill
- Failure of a homeowner to make their property safe or warn guests of known dangers
In each of these cases, the negligent party could be liable for damages caused to another person. However, the injured party must also prove that the negligent actions directly caused the injuries.
A negligence lawsuit must also be filed within four years of the injury under Florida’s statute of limitations. So, don’t delay in filing a lawsuit if you’ve been injured in a car accident, truck accident, or a slip and fall accident.
Other Negligence Standards
Children are held to different standards in negligence cases. They are generally expected to act as a reasonable child of the same age and experience.
Professionals are also held to different standards when acting in their professional capacities. For example, in a medical malpractice case, a surgeon is expected to act as a reasonably prudent professional under the circumstances. Their conduct will be compared to other surgeons in the same specialty.
Negligence is not the only standard used in personal injury cases. For example, Florida dog bite laws require strict liability for dog owners. Even if your dog has no prior history of aggressiveness, you may be found strictly liable for damages from a dog bite.
Negligence by Multiple Parties
Even if you were also negligent during an accident, the other driver may be found negligent as well. This won’t prevent you from filing a car accident lawsuit, but it may reduce the amount of damages you can recover.
Florida follows a pure comparative fault scheme, which means your damages will be reduced by the fault percentage you are assigned. For example, if you have $100,000 in damages from an accident and were 40% at fault, you would only be entitled to recovery up to $60,000 in damages from the other party.
Applying the Reasonable Person Standard to Your Case
Ultimately, a jury may have to decide whether the reasonable person standard was met if your lawsuit ends up going to trial. However, a personal injury lawyer can discuss how the reasonable person standard may apply to your case during an initial case evaluation.
They can evaluate your case based on their experience handling other personal injury lawsuits. You can also ask other questions about your case, such as:
- Which damages you can seek financial compensation for
- What to expect when dealing with an insurance company
- Whether they accept cases on a contingency fee basis
Contact a personal injury lawyer to get answers to your questions and discuss how the reasonable person standard may apply to your case.
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