What Is Considered a “Reasonable Person” When it Comes to Negligence? 

For someone to be found liable for an injury caused by their negligence, a court must find that a defendant failed to act as a “reasonable person” would have in the situation. Negligence can only be proven when certain elements are met, one of which is the “reasonable person” standard in a personal injury case. 

The reasonable person standard is critical to proving liability and recovering financially in a personal injury case. A Dallas personal injury lawyer’s ability to prove your claim under this standard can make all the difference in winning your case and recovering financially after an accident. 

What Is the “Reasonable Person” Standard? 

The reasonable person standard applies to defendants in personal injury claims and asks whether a hypothetical person approaching the situation in the same circumstances would have acted the same as the defendant. This is an objective test designed to help judges and juries decide whether a defendant was legally negligent in their actions. 

A person is not expected to act perfectly under all circumstances, only with the care and caution that an ordinary person would have used. A court can find that a mistake could have been made by another reasonable person or that an accident was unavoidable, regardless of the defendant’s actions. 

However, when it may be objectively clear how a “reasonable person” should have behaved under the circumstances. When the defendant fails to act within that standard, their actions can be viewed as negligent in a personal injury case. 

How Is the Reasonable Person Standard Applied?

If a driver approaches an intersection as their light turns red but continues to speed through the intersection instead of braking, those are not the actions of a reasonable person. In this situation, a reasoning person would use ordinary care and caution. A reasonable person would have slowed and stopped for the red light. A driver speeding through the red light can be liable for negligence using the reasonable person standard in a personal injury claim.

Other examples of how the reasonable person standard is applied might include: 

  • A shopkeeper that fails to keep the store clean and free of hazards to shoppers when a reasonable store owner would have prevented the hazards; 
  • A medical provider that fails to properly diagnose or treat a patient when a reasonable provider with the same skill and training would have properly treated the patient; 
  • A dog owner that fails to leash or restrain their dog, which goes on to bite a victim, when a reasonable owner would have restrained the dog and used precautions to avoid attack. 

If the at-fault party’s actions were not that of a reasonable person, they may be liable for injuries and other harm.  

Does the Same Reasonable Person Standard Apply to Everybody? 

No. While the reasonable person standard is an objective test, it considers the unique circumstances of the defendant. For example, a seven-year-old child is held to the standard of a reasonable child of that age. A blind person is held to the standard of a blind person, and other individuals with disabilities or health conditions are expected to act in a manner that is reasonable in light of their condition. 

How the Reasonable Person Standard Affects Your Personal Injury Claim 

To win a claim based on negligence, the plaintiff must prove the defendant did not act reasonably under the circumstances. They will then need to show that the defendant’s failure to act under the reasonable person standard caused injuries to the plaintiff, and the defendant is responsible for paying their damages. 

Under the reasonable person standard, the plaintiff must show that the risk of harm was foreseeable and the defendant should have been aware their actions were wrong. The plaintiff must then show that a “reasonable person” would have acted differently under the situation. The jury would consider various factors involved, such as the defendant’s mental capacity, awareness of the situation, and ability to act (or not act) to avoid the damage from occurring. 

Proving that the defendant in your personal injury claim did not act with the care and caution of a reasonable person is essential to winning your case and obtaining fair compensation for your claim. 

A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You Establish a Negligence Claim

Proving that the opposing party did not act as a reasonable person would under similar circumstances can be challenging. An experienced Dallas personal injury attorney will prepare your claim to address this factor and other essential elements of a personal injury claim in Texas. 

Contact Our Accident Law Firm in Dallas, TX

If you’ve been injured in an accident in Dallas, Texas, and need legal help, contact our Dallas car accident lawyers at Jay Murray Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation today.

Jay Murray Personal Injury Lawyers
2512 State St,
Dallas, TX 75201
(214) 855-1420