Reasonable Person Standard in a Personal Injury Case
October 8, 2021
Most personal injury cases are based on the legal theory of negligence, which refers to the failure to uphold a duty of care owed to the person who filed the claim for compensation. While there are many different duties of care that may be owed to someone, a breach of a duty of care refers to a failure to take reasonable action to prevent an injury.
This raises various questions: What could be considered reasonable action? How does an attorney establish that another party’s actions or failure to act were unreasonable?
Phillips Law Group’s experienced attorneys discuss these concepts in detail. If you were injured and think another person could have and should have done more to prevent you from getting hurt, you may have a valid case for compensation.
We are prepared to help you seek maximum compensation for your damages at no upfront cost. Schedule a free consultation to learn more.
Reasonable Action to Prevent an Injury
In many cases, an at-fault party’s actions were considered unreasonable because they violated a law. For example, a driver could be found at fault for a car crash because he or she was violating traffic laws, such as laws on:
- Distracted driving
- Right of way
- Maintaining the integrity of a lane
- Running a red light
- Making an illegal turn
- Driving the wrong way
- Failing to use his or her headlights
If your attorney can prove the other driver violated a traffic law before your crash, he or she may be found liable for your damages.
In a truck crash case, the driver may have failed to properly secure the cargo in the trailer, in violation of federal law. The trucking company may have violated federal law by failing to drug test the driver, repair the truck, or pushed the driver to violate hours of service rules.
In a slip and fall case, the property owner’s actions may not have violated a specific law, but they may have been unreasonable. For example, if the property owner or one of his or her employees was aware of a dangerous hazard and did not take steps to address it, the owner may be liable for injuries that result. The property owner may argue he or she should not be held liable for the actions of employees, but that may be untrue due to the concept of vicarious liability.
Your lawyer would likely need to prove the owner had a reasonable amount of time to address the hazard. Your lawyer would also likely need to prove the hazard was unreasonably dangerous and people could not be expected to avoid it. For example, hazards in heavily trafficked parts of the property should probably be dealt with quickly.
At the very least, it may be reasonable to expect the property owner to mark off the area to prevent people from getting near the hazardous condition.
It is important to note each case must be assessed on its own. What is considered a reasonable duty of care in one case may not be considered reasonable in another case.
What About Failure to Act?
In some cases, the at-fault party simply failed to act to prevent harm to someone else. Sometimes failure to act is unreasonable, given the situation and the likelihood of being able to prevent harm to someone else by acting.
A common example of a failure to act is a failure of nursing home staff members to move a resident to prevent that person from getting bedsores. Some residents cannot move much on their own and need assistance. Nursing home staff members must provide that assistance to help reduce the risk of injury to these residents.
In a defective product case, the victim may allege the manufacturer should have done more to notify consumers about the dangers of the product. For example, if research comes out showing a drug is linked to severe side effects, the manufacturer has an obligation to notify the public. Concealing this information or not acting on it could be considered unreasonable.
Duty of Care to Children
It is important to note people may owe a greater duty of care to children than to adults. That means they could be held liable for something involving a child even though they would not be held liable for a similar situation involving an adult.
Children do not have the same ability as adults to watch for danger and identify dangerous situations. For example, that is why property owners need to have fences around swimming pools and take other steps to keep children away from attractive nuisances.
Unsure How a Lawyer Can Help? Call Today
Confused by the legal process? Need help dealing with the insurance company?
Phillips Law Group’s experienced Phoenix personal injury attorneys have decades of combined experience managing these cases. We know how to handle every step of the process, from filing claims to gathering evidence and negotiating with the insurance company to filing a lawsuit.
By hiring one of our attorneys, you can rest assured your case is in the hands of an experienced professional dedicated to your best interests. The insurance company is not going to take care of you, and our services come with no upfront fees.
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