It is common for people to say “use your head” and “be reasonable.”  What exactly do they mean by that? Generally, they mean to be cautious when moving through life and all that it throws at us. There is no doubt it’s a good policy to live by.

In personal injury cases, a person must be proven to have been negligent in order to be held liable for damages. The standard used to determine one of the elements of negligence is whether the defendant acted as a “reasonable person” would in a similar situation. Whether you have a case or not depends on this concept. 

How Do You Know What’s Reasonable?

Courts and juries decide what is reasonable depending on the facts of the particular case. Everyone who lives in modern society is part of a community. As community members, we all have a duty to act in a way that doesn’t cause harm to others. 

This doesn’t mean that people have to act like superheroes to be considered a reasonable person. The standard is not based on perfection, as that would be an impossible level to attain.

People are human, and accidents will inevitably occur. But did the defendant do their best to avoid an accident? Would others have acted the same way in a similar situation? Was the defendant as careful as they should have been? 

Again, a judge or a jury of one’s peers will make that determination. They will consider the defendant’s level of knowledge, life experience, physical abilities, and the specific circumstances of the case. 

What’s an Example of Being a Reasonable Person?

Car accidents make up a majority of personal injury cases. Every person who gets behind the wheel of a car has a duty to use reasonable care while driving. 

The examples of unreasonable care while driving are endless. Was the defendant intoxicated while driving? Did they run through a red light or make an illegal left turn? Were they speeding? Were they texting? In all of the above cases, it is foreseeable that the driver’s actions could likely result in an accident. They were not driving as a reasonable person would. 

Slip and fall cases are another big area of personal injury cases. Maybe there was water in the grocery store aisle or an uneven tile on the floor. A reasonable store owner would put up cones or signs in unsafe areas to prevent an accident. If they didn’t and someone was injured as a result, the jury would likely find that the store owner was negligent.  

Does a Reasonable Person Only Refer to Adults?

It depends. When a child is old enough to drive, they will be expected to obey the driving laws like everyone else. However, in other instances, their age and lack of life experience can be considered, and they may not be held liable as a result. 

In those cases, the reasonable person standard would be slightly different. Instead of asking what a reasonable person would do, the question becomes what a child of the same age and intelligence would do in that instance. 

In many states, children under the age of seven are not considered capable of negligence. Some states say children aged seven to fourteen are presumed not to be capable of negligence. Georgia law generally presumes that children under four years of age are incapable of negligence. 

How Does the Reasonable Person Standard Affect Your Negligence Case?

For your negligence case to be successful, your personal injury lawyer must prove that the defendant’s actions caused your injury. 

Specifically, they will need to show that: 

  • The defendant had a duty to exercise reasonable care; 
  • The defendant breached that duty by not acting as a reasonable person in that situation would have;
  • By not acting as a reasonable person, the defendant directly caused the accident; and
  • The accident resulted in your injuries. 

Accordingly, the reasonable person standard is a big part of proving your negligence case, but it’s not the only element that must be proven. 

For more information, please contact the personal injury lawyers at Hawk Law Group at our nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.
We serve throughout the Central Savannah River Area and it’s surrounding areas:

Hawk Law Group – Augusta, GA
338 Telfair St, Augusta, GA 30901, United States
(706) 722-3500

Hawk Law Group – Evans, GA
4384 River Watch Pkwy, Evans, GA 30809, United States
(706) 863-6500

Hawk Law Group – Thomson, GA
146 Railroad St A, Thomson, GA 30824, United States
(706) 361-0350

Hawk Law Group – Waynesboro, GA
827 Liberty St, Waynesboro, GA 30830, United States
(706) 437-9122

Hawk Law Group – Aiken County, SC
156 Laurens St NW, Aiken, SC 29801, United States
(803) 226-9089

We also serve in Edgefield County, SC.