What Is the Reasonable Person Standard in a Sacramento Injury Case?

stock image of a gavel resting on the judges benchThe reasonable person standard is a key legal concept used in personal injury claims. This concept is very useful to injured victims and their attorneys, who have the burden of proving the other party’s negligence. In complex personal injury cases, the reasonable person standard provides insight that helps juries and judges determine whether a defendant could have reasonably prevented harm to the victim.

In this article, Arnold Law Firm explains what the reasonable person standard is in an injury claim. We also discuss how this legal tool helps provide clarity on whether negligence occurred.

Were you injured by another party’s negligence in California? If so, we encourage you to contact our firm for a free case review. You may be eligible to recover compensation for your medical costs and other losses.

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What Is the Reasonable Person Standard?

The reasonable person standard is a legal concept. Attorneys use this in a personal injury lawsuit to set a benchmark. The benchmark is a hypothetical person placed in similar circumstances as the defendant. The comparison raises the question about whether that hypothetical individual would have acted the same as the defendant.

When Is The Reasonable Person Standard Used in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

The reasonable person standard is used in a personal injury lawsuit to determine if the defendant acted negligently. This standard is applied in various scenarios:

  • Car Accidents: To assess if a driver acted with the care expected of a reasonable driver under similar conditions.
  • Slip and Fall Cases: To evaluate if a property owner maintained safe conditions as a reasonable person would.
  • Medical Malpractice: To determine if a healthcare professional provided the standard of care expected from a reasonable professional in the same field.
  • Product Liability: To judge if a manufacturer took reasonable steps to ensure their product was safe for use.
  • Workplace Accidents: To see if an employer provided a reasonably safe working environment.

In each case, the court compares the defendant’s actions to those of a hypothetical reasonable person to decide if they were negligent and thus liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.

How Could the Reasonable Person Standard Affect My Claim?

If the attorney for the plaintiff is successful, then the defendant can be held liable for the victim’s damages. If the attorney is unsuccessful, then the defendant would be released from being responsible for the victim’s medical costs and other losses.

The court, including the lawyers, judge, and/or jury, will evaluate the accused driver’s actions against those of a hypothetical “reasonable person” to determine if the driver acted responsibly.

Here is a real-world example of how the reasonable person standard could impact your injury claim:

Driver Struck and Injured a Cyclist

The defendant allegedly crashed into a cyclist crossing at a designated crossing area while texting and looking at his phone.

Questions that might be asked in this situation include:

  • Would a reasonable person be texting while driving?
  • Would a reasonable person be focused on the road to avoid causing anyone harm?
  • Would a reasonable person have slowed down when approaching a crossing area to check for pedestrians or cyclists in the area?

Answering yes to any of these questions would likely show that the person could have foreseen the potential danger and acted appropriately. A reasonable person in this situation would not have been texting while driving.

Does the Same Reasonable Person Standard Apply To Everyone?

Some professionals, like doctors or engineers, may be held to a higher standard of care in certain situations. For instance, a doctor would be expected to properly monitor a patient who has just had surgery.

All drivers owe a duty of care to reasonably prevent causing harm to others, such as by following traffic laws or not driving while impaired. Store owners would ensure spills are cleared away quickly or place signs to warn shoppers of the hazard.

Some individuals are not held to the same standard of care, however, including:

  • Children – especially young children who do not fully understand the impact of their actions, such as darting into the street.
  • Mentally-impaired individuals, such as those suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia
  • Individuals with other disabilities may also not be held to the same standard of care, depending on the situation and type of disability.

Do I Need an Attorney To Establish the Reasonable Person Standard?

You do not need an attorney to establish the reasonable person standard in an injury claim. However, having one is highly beneficial. Here’s why:

  • Legal Knowledge: Attorneys understand negligence law and how to argue deviations from the reasonable person standard.
  • Evidence Collection: They help gather and present evidence, including witness statements and expert testimony.
  • Case Building: Lawyers can build a strong case showing the defendant’s negligence.
  • Negotiation Skills: They can negotiate with insurance companies for a fair settlement.
  • Court Representation: Attorneys effectively represent you in court if needed.
  • Legal Procedures: They guide you through the legal process, ensuring all procedures and deadlines are met.

In short, while not mandatory, an attorney can greatly enhance your chances of a successful injury claim. Their expertise and support are invaluable.

Call Our Firm for Help with an Injury Claim

At Arnold Law Firm, our knowledgeable personal injury lawyers in Sacramento are committed to helping the injured. We have decades of experience with many types of injury cases and have a history of proven results – we have recovered millions in compensation for our clients.

Need legal help but unsure where to start? Our firm offers a free initial case review to discuss your situation and determine your potential legal options. If you have a case and choose our Sacramento personal injury law firm to represent you, there are no upfront costs to pay. We only get paid if you do.

Call our trusted law firm 24/7. We are here to help you. (916) 777-7777