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

If you or somebody you care about is involved in a personal injury case, there is one term that you will likely hear come up – “reasonable person.”

While most of us have an understanding of what a reasonable person is, it is important to know that this phrase has a different meaning when it comes to personal injury law. It is crucial to understand what a “reasonable person” means when it comes to a civil personal injury case. This resolves around determining negligence, which is a key factor to resolving a personal injury claim.

Here, we want to discuss what “reasonable person” means so that you are not left in the dark or caught off guard if you hear people discussing this when you get going on a personal injury claim.

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Defining a “Reasonable Person”

Before any person can be held accountable for causing an injury due to their negligence, it must be determined whether or not that the individual acted as a “reasonable person” would have acted in a similar situation. Anytime you find “negligence” discussed in a personal injury case, you will find that the question will always come back to whether or not the defendant acted or did not act in a way that a reasonable person would have acted.

When determining what a “reasonable person” would do in a given situation, this will involve making up a completely hypothetical individual who would approach the situation with an appropriate amount of caution and take sensible actions.

This standard is created to provide personal injury courts and juries with a relatively objective test when deciding whether a person’s actions should be considered negligent.

We do want to stress that this hypothetical “reasonable person” does not have to be perfect. It is important to realize that individuals make mistakes, and when an error occurs that is reasonable under the circumstances, the person involved may not be found liable.

There are also situations where accidents are unavoidable or cases when it is impossible to determine exactly what a reasonable person would do in a given situation.

However, when it becomes clear how a “reasonable person” would have behaved and that the defendant failed to act in accordance with that, they may be held liable for the situation.

For example, suppose a driver goes through an intersection with flashing yellow lights at a recklessly dangerous high speed. A reasonably prudent driver would have slowed down or even completely stopped in an effort to avoid a potential collision with drivers coming the other direction. A reasonable person would understand that another vehicle could be coming through the intersection at any moment and that a high rate of speed could lead to disastrous consequences.

Will You Need an Attorney for Help?

If you or somebody you care about has been injured in an accident caused by the careless or negligent actions of another individual in the state of Oregon, you need to reach out to a skilled personal injury attorney as soon as possible. An attorney will understand what it takes to investigate the incident and determine the negligence of the other party involved. Importantly, an attorney will be able to break down the “reasonable person” standard so that insurance carriers and personal injury juries can properly determine whether or not another party should be held responsible and have to pay compensation to the injury victim.