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What is the Reasonable Person Standard in an Injury Claim?

Posted on behalf of Goldberg Finnegan, LLC on Feb 09, 2022 in Personal Injury

justice of reasonable person standard in injury claimsThe reasonable person standard is one of the legal tools used to establish negligence in an injury claim. However, proving a defendant did not meet the reasonable person standard is no easy task without the help of a qualified attorney.

Learn about the role of the reasonable person in proving negligence and what it could mean to the outcome of your claim.

Were you injured by someone else’s careless or negligent actions? If so, the legal team at Goldberg Finnegan is ready to help. Our experienced personal injury lawyers in Silver Spring have been helping injury victims in Maryland for decades. We have a strong history of proven results, recovering millions for our clients. Learn more and get answers to your legal questions in a free initial consultation.

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What is the Reasonable Person Standard in an Injury Claim?

The reasonable person standard does not refer to a real person. It is an ideal model of a hypothetical person. The reasonable person standard is used to show how a typical person would behave in certain situations.

Why does this matter?

In an injury case, this legal standard helps a jury to gain clarity about a defendant's behavior in an accident. A jury compares the defendant’s actions or inactions to those of the “reasonable person” under similar circumstances.

It is important to clarify that the reasonable person does not represent a perfect person. Occasionally, even though a defendant may have made an error, he or she may not always be found negligent.

Building a case for negligence is a complicated process. This is one reason why injury victims may greatly benefit from having their claim handled by a knowledgeable attorney.

How the Reasonable Person Standard May Affect an Injury Claim

In an injury claim, the plaintiff (injured party) – or his or her attorney – must show:

  • The driver knew or should have known his or her actions were wrong - such as speeding in a school zone
  • Harm was predictable; the driver could easily foresee his or her actions may cause injury or other damages
  • The actions a reasonable person would have taken in the same situation - such as stopping at a red light

The reasonable person standard helps to show how a defendant was negligent. This is critical to any injury claim, because without negligence, there is no claim and no possibility of a recovery.

Personal injury cases are often complicated. Under Maryland’s contributory negligence law, insurers can avoid paying on a claim if the victim is even one percent liable. Having an experienced attorney handle your claim can help to level the legal playing field.

What Are Examples of a Reasonable Person in Other Situations?

There are many types of negligence that can lead to injuries and other damages. These are just a few examples of how a reasonable person would likely behave in a hazardous situation:

Business or Property Owners

Landowners, business owners, and sometimes even property managers owe a duty of care to invitees who visit their property. Often, these invitees may visit for business, such as shopping, or perhaps they are tenants in a rental property. These business and property owners are required by law to maintain their premises and keep them hazard-free.

A property owner who took reasonable steps to prevent harm to others would:

  • Warn shoppers of a wet floor, broken glass or other debris
  • Fix potholes and replace broken lights in a parking lot
  • Repair trip hazards in the entryway or throughout a store

Commercial and Non-Commercial Drivers

Whether someone operates a truck, bus or a personal vehicle, that driver owes a duty to prevent harm to themselves and others.

When driving, taking reasonable precautions includes:

  • Following state and federal traffic laws – such as obeying stop signs and using turn signals
  • Not driving when fatigued or impaired by alcohol or other substances
  • Maintaining the vehicle for safe operation
  • Ignoring cellphones and other types of distractions

Pedestrians

Although more vulnerable to traffic, pedestrians also owe a duty of care to themselves and to others.

A reasonable or sensible pedestrian would:

  • Not dart out into the road without checking for oncoming traffic – even if he or she had the right-of-way
  • Wait to use their cellphone for texting, messaging or even conversation until they were out of the street
  • Not attempt to cross a street while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Use a crosswalk whenever possible, but always stop and check for traffic before entering the road
  • Wear reflective clothing at night and other times of low light to be more visible to drivers

Are There Exceptions or Limitations to the Reasonable Person Standard?

There are definitely exceptions to the reasonable person standard. Children, for instance, are not typically held to the same duty of care as an adult. Minors do not have the level of experience, knowledge, awareness or decision-making abilities as adults. This type of exception can vary depending on both the situation and the age of the minor child.

Other exceptions may apply to professionals who are held to a higher standard than that of a typical person, such as:

  • Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals
  • Long-term care nurses or other nursing home caregivers
  • Police officers and other emergency first responders
  • Commercial truck drivers
  • Bus or other drivers responsible for transporting passengers

Need Legal Help? Call Our Trusted Law Firm Today

If you were injured because of another party’s negligence, we encourage you to seek legal help right away. Find out if you have legal options and get answers to your questions in our free case review. Working with an attorney early on can also help you to avoid making mistakes that could hurt your claim.

At Goldberg Finnegan, we are ready to discuss your situation. If you have a case and you want to move forward with our firm, you can do so with no upfront costs or fees. We only get paid if you do.

Millions Recovered for Our Clients. (888) 213-8140

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