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

Most personal injury claims rely on the presence of negligence. When a defendant fails to uphold a certain duty of care and causes harm to another person, he or she could be found negligent and liable for the victim’s damages in a lawsuit.

The basis for negligence relies on whether the at-fault party acted in a way that a reasonable person would have in the same situation. However, one question remains: what is considered a reasonable person when it comes to negligence?

Understanding a Reasonable Person

A successful personal injury claim relies on the victim’s ability to prove that the defendant’s conduct was not reasonable. A reasonable person is someone who approaches situations with an appropriate degree of caution. When an unexpected event occurs, he or she acts as necessary.

While a reasonable person may make mistakes, these errors must be reasonable for the circumstances. If a defendant acts in a way that a reasonable person would not have, he or she would be considered negligent in a personal injury case.

When approaching a stop sign, for example, a reasonable motorist would slow and come to a complete stop before driving through the intersection. Not only does the driver want to follow traffic laws, but he or she also wants to avoid a potential accident. If a driver speeds through the intersection without stopping, he or she is not acting as a reasonable person would.

Are There Any Exceptions to the Reasonable Person Standard?

Under the law, children are the exception to the reasonable person standard. Generally, we do not expect children to act similarly to an adult. We do not always expect them to make rational decisions in line with what an adult would do.

In cases involving children, courts will typically compare their conduct to other children of the same age and within their knowledge and experience range. However, there are some situations where minors are subject to the same standard of care as adults. For example, minors who drive are still required to drive safely and follow traffic laws.

Proving a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Missouri

The goal of a personal injury lawsuit is to prove that the defendant acted negligently and caused the plaintiff’s injury. If you plan on filing this type of claim, you will need to prove four important facts to secure compensation.

For example, say that you are hit by another driver who fails to stop at a stop sign. All drivers have a duty to follow Missouri traffic laws and operate their vehicles safely. The motorist breaches this duty of care by not acting like a reasonable person and speeding through the intersection. If the driver had acted reasonably, the accident would not have occurred, and you would not have experienced your damages.

If you are filing a personal injury lawsuit in Missouri, you need an attorney on your side. A Kansas City personal injury lawyer can represent your claim and help you secure the compensation that you deserve. Contact an attorney as soon as possible following your accident to discuss your next steps.