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Coral Springs & Parkland Injury Lawyers > Blog > Personal Injury > Understanding The Meaning Of A Reasonable Person As It Pertains To Negligence

Understanding The Meaning Of A Reasonable Person As It Pertains To Negligence


In Florida, before a defendant can be held liable in a personal injury case, the plaintiff must prove the defendant’s negligence caused their injury. But what is “negligence?” Negligence is any act or omission that falls short of the standard to be expected of the “reasonable person.” In other words, negligence exists if a person fails to behave in a manner that a reasonable person would have behaved.

What Is Considered a “Reasonable Person” in a Personal Injury Case?

A reasonable person is not a real person. This is a hypothetical person. The reasonable person is a legal standard created to help the courts when it comes to determining whether an individual’s behavior constitutes negligence. The reasonable person defines how an individual should act or avoid acting in order to prevent injury to another individual.

The reasonable person standard is an objective one. This is because there does not exist a standard definition of what a reasonable person would do in all circumstances. Usually, it is up to jury members to decide what a reasonable person would have done or avoided doing. Nevertheless, many consider a reasonable person to be that person that approaches any situation with caution and then sensibly takes action. A reasonable person considers the risk of doing something before they do it or avoid doing it.

In determining whether a person behaved the same way a reasonable person would have behaved, jurors consider the case’s specifics. Jurors also consider whether or not the risk of harm could have been foreseen. If a person could have foreseen the risk of harm and proceeded to behave the way they did without regard to the safety of others, then they will most likely be considered negligent. However, if it was almost impossible for a person to foresee the risk of harm, jurors may decide that the person is not liable.

It is crucial to note that a reasonable person is not perfect. In fact, they are far from perfect. A reasonable person can also make mistakes. If a reasonable mistake occurs, that person may not be considered negligent. Also, it is vital to note that there are situations when it is impossible to tell how a reasonable person would have behaved.

For example:

A reasonable person drives the speed limit.

A reasonable person may also drive a few miles over the speed limits.

A reasonable person would not drive 100 mph in a school zone, however.

Whether a reasonable person would drive 60 or 65 mph in a 45 mph zone is debatable.

Practical Example of the Reasonable Person Standard

Consider a DUI accident case. In such a case, jurors may find that a reasonable person would know that drunk driving is dangerous and can cause accidents that can result in serious injuries. In a DUI accident case, jurors might find the drunk driver liable for any resulting injuries and damages.

In conclusion, you should note that when judging a child’s behavior, the court uses a modified reasonable person because children are not expected to behave the same way adults behave. Children lack the maturity to understand certain risks and consequences. Usually, a child’s conduct is compared to that of other children of the same age and who are alike in the amount of knowledge and experience.

Contact a Delray Beach Personal Injury Lawyer

If you’ve been injured in a Florida accident and need professional legal help, contact our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers at Lyons & Snyder.

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