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The “Reasonable Person” Standard

Posted on April 23rd, 2009 No Comments

Any personal injury lawsuit requires some proof of negligence, that the defendant has breached a duty of care that they have to minimize unreasonable risks to others. To determine whether or not such a breach has occurred, the legal system has established a theoretical concept, called the “reasonable person standard”. This effectively states that a person is responsible for a duty of care, but only to the extent that any “reasonable person” would behave in the same fashion in the same situation.

The definition of a “reasonable person” is inherently subjective, but is necessary because a duty of care can only exist if an action would foreseeably cause injury to other people. In order to determine what constitutes a foreseeable risk, the reasonable person standard was created to help make the judgment process more objective.

A “reasonable person” will consider four factors before taking an action:
•    The risks vs. benefits of that action.
•    The extent of the risk that may occur from an action.
•    The odds that the risk would actually cause injury or harm.
•    Whether or not an alternative is a realistic option.

If a person fails to consider these factors when taking an action, or if a person takes an action that a reasonable person would not have, he or she may be held liable for any injury that results from his/her behavior.

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If you or a loved one has been injured by the negligent behavior of another, contact Jacksonville personal injury lawyer Don Guthrie at 904-296-1088

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