Reasonable Person Standard

When you’re learning about personal injury law, you may come across references to terms like reasonable person and reasonable care. The reasonable person is a legal concept; it’s the legal standard that applies to evaluate the behavior of the people who are involved in an accident.

If you’re part of a personal injury case, understanding what the reasonable person standard is and the standard of care definition can help you prepare for your case and know what to expect from the legal process. Here’s what our personal injury lawyers want you to know about the reasonable person standard in injury law.

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A court judge questing a person's reason

What is the Term Used to Describe the Failure to Act as a Reasonable Person

The reasonable person in a personal injury claim is the legal standard for lawful behavior. The behavior of each person in the case is compared to what a fictional, reasonable person would do in the same situation. There is no way for a reasonable person to have seen this coming.

If the person’s behavior is as good or better than a reasonable person in the same situation, their actions are not negligent. But if the person’s conduct falls short of what a reasonable person would do under the same circumstances, their actions are negligent. When a person acts negligently, they’re subject to legal liability if that negligence resulted in an accident, such as a car crash or medical malpractice.

However, a child is generally not expected to act as a reasonable adult would act and courts hold children to a modified standard. Particularly in property law, there is a law that requires property owners to keep their property safe for trespassing children is called the attractive nuisance doctrine.

The Reasonable Person Standard Definition

The amount of care and caution that an ordinary person would use in a given situation is known as the reasonable person standard. The reasonable person standard depends on the situation. It’s a fictitious legal standard that applies to evaluate the behavior of each person involved in an accident. The trier of fact, usually the jury, looks at what each person did to see if their actions were at least as careful as a reasonable person.

If it’s proven that the defendant acted negligently and that negligence resulted in an accident, compensation is due to the victims for their damages, including medical expenses and pain and suffering.

Personal Injury Jury

Is the Reasonable Person Test Objective or Subjective?

The reasonable person test is an objective standard. The purpose of the reasonable person test is to give the jury a concrete, uniform standard when they’re looking at the actions of each party in a case.

While it’s up to the jury to decide what’s reasonable in any given situation, the jury evaluates behavior based on an objective, reasonable person. They don’t look at what’s reasonable specific to any one person. Instead, the test is an objective, uniform evaluation of behavior that applies to everyone in society.


Reasonable Person Standard

The basis for recovery in a personal injury accident is negligence. When you’re involved in an injury case, it’s up to the jury to apportion liability and fault. To win financial recovery for an accident, you have to prove that the other party acted negligently.

To prove negligence in a personal injury lawsuit, there has to be some kind of legal standard for what amounts to negligent behavior. The facts of every accident case are different from the next, so the courts have the challenge of how to determine whether negligence occurred in any given situation. In Nevada, and most jurisdictions, the definition of negligence is based on the reasonable person standard. To determine whether negligence occurred, the jury looks at what a reasonable person would do in the same situation.

Reasonable Person Standard Example

Let’s look at an example of how the reasonable person standard plays out in a legal case. For example, say a driver is traveling down the street. They approach an intersection. The light turns red, and the driver has plenty of time to stop.

However, the driver fails to come to a stop and proceeds through the intersection. At the same time, the light turns green for oncoming traffic. Another driver with a green light heads into the intersection. An accident occurs as a result.

In this case, the jury looks at the actions of each driver based on what a reasonable person would do. A reasonable person stops at a red light. A reasonable person would not try to travel through an intersection when they don’t have the right of way. The jury decides the case by looking at each person’s actions compared to what the fictional, reasonable person would have done if confronted with the same circumstances.

Because a reasonable person wouldn’t run a red light, the driver that ran the light is negligent. The jury decides the case in favor of the injured plaintiff based on the finding of negligence against the driver that ran the red light.

Mastland, Inc. v. Evans Furniture, Inc. involves a case where a landlord tried to file a suit against a tenant for property damages to a dwelling unit he had rented out. The problem was he was suing a 2-year-old child who started the fire by playing with a cigarette lighter. A child is just not held to the same standard as a reasonable adult.

Proving Negligence and the Reasonably Prudent Person in an Accident Case

Once you understand what the reasonably prudent person standard is and how it applies, you must prepare to prove your case to the jury. As the injured victim, it’s up to you to prove all of the elements of the case. Showing how the responsible party failed to live up to the reasonably prudent person standard is a critical part of your claim.

To prove the reasonably prudent person standard, you must do two things: First, you must prove what the actions of the other party were. You must present evidence to show what the other party did. Second, you must argue to the jury that those actions fall below the standard of a reasonable person. You prove your case with a mix of factual evidence about the events of the situation and legal argument about how those facts apply to the reasonable person standard.

Ultimately, the jury decides in the case. But you must present them with the evidence and arguments that they need to reach the correct decision. Carefully building the evidence and preparing your legal strategies can ensure that you have a case that’s built for success. Also, with a strong case, the insurance company may be more willing to settle for a fair amount without having to go to trial.

How Our Nevada Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help

If you’ve been injured in an accident, you must prove your case based on the reasonable person standard. Our Las Vegas attorneys can represent you and handle every aspect of your accident claim. When we represent you, the personal injury attorneys at Adam S. Kutner & Associates handle every step involved in building your case. We can help you evaluate the case based on the reasonable person standard, build the evidence in your case and fight for the compensation that you deserve.

We invite you to contact our personal injury law firm for a free consultation. Let us explain how you can bring your claim for compensation based on Nevada law. Our team can answer all of your questions about the reasonable person standard and how we can help you prove your case.

There’s no cost to call, and your consultation is always confidential. If you decide to move forward with your case, there are no upfront costs and no fees unless you win. Let our skilled attorneys fight for justice for you.

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Adam S. Kutner

Adam S. Kutner Personal Injury Lawyer

With more than 31 years of experience fighting for victims of personal injury in the Las Vegas valley, Attorney Adam S. Kutner knows his way around the Nevada court system and how to get clients their settlement promptly and trouble-free.