The legal concept of negligence dominates personal injury law, from medical malpractice to nursing home abuse. Negligence simply means that someone had a duty to avoid causing other people harm, and they failed in that duty. For instance, a driver has a duty to follow the rules of the road and avoid taking any risks that could harm others.
To help determine liability, the defendant’s conduct is usually held to a “reasonable person” standard. Who is this reasonable person, and what does it mean for your case? When you call the Law Offices of Tim Misny, we’ll evaluate your case and explain your legal options—including whichever reasonable person standard may apply to your claim.
Who is the ‘reasonable person’?
The truth is, there is no single “reasonable person.” The reasonable person is a legal fiction: it’s shorthand to refer to someone who acts with ordinary prudence in any given situation. The problem with this standard is that there’s no real way to define “reasonable,” so it could apply to every single person and every situation on the planet.
To get around this, lawyers and judges ask what’s reasonable for a person of the same age, skills, intellect or other defining factors. That means the reasonable person standard can change, depending on the type of case and the defendant’s particular background.
How the reasonable person standard can change
Depending on the case, the standards for a “reasonable person” are different. For instance, in a medical malpractice case, the jury must consider what a reasonable doctor would have done in the same or similar circumstances, rather than the average person on the street.
Imagine a doctor accidentally left a surgical sponge in the patient during a routine surgery. When deciding whether their actions were reasonable, the jury must consider the doctor’s specific skills, training and what was happening during the surgery. The plaintiff might offer evidence to prove that every surgeon is trained to look before they close the incision, while the defendant might offer evidence that there were unusual circumstances involved, which excuse their oversight.
Generally, if a defendant has specialized skills and knowledge, those must be taken into account. Similarly, disabilities and handicaps must factor into the verdict. It’s the same reason why children are rarely held liable for negligence: they simply lack the experience and ability to comprehend the consequences of their actions.
Ultimately, your lawyer will best be able to explain what kind of “reasonable person” standard is involved in your case.
Contact an Ohio personal injury lawyer today
Have you been injured due to someone else’s negligence or recklessness? If they’re at fault, I’ll Make Them Pay!® Call me today at 877-614-9524 for a consultation, and we’ll discuss how I can help you recover compensation.