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How the Reasonable Person Standard Shapes Personal Injury Cases

The reasonable person standard is essential in almost all personal injury cases. It’s the standard to which a person is deemed negligible or not based on how a typical, reasonable person would react to a similar situation. Whether or not the defendant can be proven negligible based on this standard can make or break the case for both the defendant and the plaintiff. 

Let’s discuss what the reasonable person standard is, how it can be proven, exceptions to the standard, and how a personal injury attorney can help. 

The Essence of the Reasonable Person Standard

Defining the “Reasonable Person” 

In Nevada, a reasonable person is defined as someone “exercising that degree of care which an ordinary, careful, and prudent person would exercise under the same or similar circumstances.” 

Application in Personal Injury Cases

The reasonable person standard is often applied in personal injury cases. It looks at the sum total of the defendant’s actions leading up to the injury. With a presumption that a reasonable person would be cautious not to cause injury to others, it looks at what a reasonable person would do in the same situation. 

If the defendant’s actions leading up to the injury weren’t at least the minimum standard of a reasonable person, the defendant can be held legally liable for the victim’s injuries and damages. 

Factors Influencing the Reasonable Person Standard

Age Considerations

The court doesn’t hold a child to the same standards under the reasonable person test as an adult. They use other children of the same age to determine if the child’s actions were negligent. However, this is not the case if a child performs an adult activity, like driving a car. Then, the court would use the reasonable person standard test for adults. 

Mental Illness and Its Impact

A court may or may not decide to hold people diagnosed with a mental illness to the typical reasonable person standard. Each state sets its own legal guidelines, so some may use the standard reasonably prudent person definition instead. Others may compare the person to the reasonable actions of a person with a similar mental illness. 

Cognitive Disabilities and the Standard

For people with cognitive disabilities, whether or not the court applies the reasonable person standard depends on the state. Special allowances for a person with cognitive disabilities are possible. 

Special Skills and Expertise

For those with special skills and expertise, like a medical professional with years of medical training and experience, a different standard may be set for them. For example, someone with extensive medical training would be expected to behave differently than someone in a different profession if there was an accident and the victim needed medical attention. 

Diving Deeper: Key Aspects of the Reasonable Person Standard

Objective vs. Subjective Evaluation

The reasonable person test is an objective standard. The purpose of the test is to give the jury a concrete, uniform standard while looking at the actions of each party. 

The jury will decide what’s reasonable in a given situation, but they evaluate the behavior based on an objective, reasonable person. 

Legal Interpretation of “Reasonable” 

“Reasonable” legally translates to ordinary. The court considers the usual behavior of an average person under the same circumstances. Those who meet or exceed an expected typical response are not considered negligent. Those who fail to meet the standard for typical behavior are negligent. 

The Interplay of Laws and Standards

Laws are legal absolutes used by courts and law enforcement to determine when a person has committed an illegal act. If a person breaks a law, then they may be charged. 

Standards are not as absolute and don’t carry the same weight as laws. They’re more ambiguous general guidelines that are subject to interpretation, depending on the circumstances and the parties involved. 

Practical Implications in Personal Injury Cases

Proving Negligence Using the Standard

In order to prove negligence, the injured person must demonstrate that their injuries were caused by a negligent act or failure to act by the other party. 

There are three facets that the injured person must prove:

  • The defendant had a duty to the injured person
  • The defendant’s act or failure to act was not reasonable and caused the injured person’s injured
  • The injured person suffered some form of injury to be entitled to damages

Insurance and the Reasonable Person Standard

Insurance policies cover legal costs and judgments stemming from personal injury lawsuits. For example, if a person is being sued by a visitor to their home who injured themselves and they are proved negligent, the home insurance policy would cover some or all of the legal fees and judgment. 

Similarly, auto and personal injury protection (PIP) insurance helps cover the costs of a car accident. Accident victims can use PIP insurance to cover medical costs not covered by health insurance, as well as related costs from injuries incurred in the accident, like personal or child care. 

Seeking Legal Assistance

In personal injury cases, it’s always beneficial to seek the assistance of a personal injury attorney. They will be versed in the reasonable person standard and will have all of the tools to prove that the defendant was acting negligently. They will be able to walk you through every step of the case and earn you the best possible outcome. 

Talk to the Experts at Naqvi Injury Law

Navigating personal injury cases and the reasonable person standard can be complex.  At Naqvi Injury Law, our team of experienced lawyers will make sure that you are in the best place to receive the maximum payout that you deserve. From gathering evidence that the other party does not meet the reasonable person standard to representing you in court, we will be there to help. 

Naqvi Injury Law boasts the “top one percent” of attorneys recognized by The National Association of Distinguished Council. You can rest easy knowing that we are utterly committed to providing you with the support you need and delivering the results that you deserve. 

Call or Schedule a Free Consultation with the team at Naqvi Injury Law today!