Personal Injury: The ‘Reasonable Person’

Every person and organization has a legal obligation to avoid conduct that is likely to cause harm to others. This is called the Duty of Care, and it requires that a person act toward others with the prudence and attention of a reasonable person under each circumstance in question.

If a person does not meet this general standard of care, their conduct (which may be an action or an omission) may be considered negligent and they may be held liable for any resulting injury or damages caused to others.

The injured party (plaintiff) has a right to file a lawsuit against the negligent individual (defendant) claiming damages that might include compensation for their pain and suffering, past and future loss of income, medication, housekeeping, transportation and other expenses depending on the severity of their injury, or compensation to cover the cost of damages to their property.

In a personal injury claim, negligence is established by proving that the defendant’s conduct failed to meet the duty of care owed to the plaintiff, causing harm to the plaintiff. The duty of care that is owed is determined based on how the court deems a reasonable person would conduct themselves in that situation.

For example, if a driver runs a red light and hits a pedestrian crossing the intersection, the driver cannot claim that they did not know the red light means to stop, as all drivers and pedestrians are expected to know what the lights on a stop light signify.

While the concept of the “reasonable person” may seem vague and subjective, it is a general standard that is influenced by the society’s ethics and laws as well as the context of the incident that caused injury or damages. The knowledge, experience, perception, physical attributes and mental capacity of both the defendant and the plaintiff will also be taken into consideration if they are relevant to the case.

Due to the complex nature of personal injury claims and the strict time limits involved in filing a claim, it is important for plaintiffs to seek legal counsel immediately to determine whether they have a case.

If you or someone you know has been seriously injured due to the negligence or intentional actions of another party, contact Share Lawyers and put our experience to work for you.

All initial consultations with our lawyers are free and there are no fees unless we win your case.