How the Reasonable Person Standard Affects an Injury Claim

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on April 30, 2021 in Personal Injury
Updated on February 24, 2022

gavel on table with law books

Although it may seem like certain actions or inactions are common sense when it comes to preventing harm. That is not always the way things happen. In a legal case, using the reasonable person standard helps the law to examine more carefully the position a defendant was placed in, as well as the context of any extenuating circumstances that may apply.

In a negligence case, it is the job of the plaintiff, or his or her attorney, to not only define what the reasonable standard is in a unique situation, but also how the defendant failed in his or her duty of care.

Injured and in need of legal help? Our experienced Milwaukee-based personal injury lawyers are ready to meet with you and discuss your potential legal options. Worried about the cost? An initial consultation is completely free – and with no obligation to file a claim or hire our services. Call our law offices to learn more.

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What is the Reasonable Person Standard?

A claim based on negligence hangs on whether the plaintiff or plaintiff’s attorney can establish that the defendant did not act as another person in similar circumstances would have done. To accomplish this, the attorney uses the reasonable person standard.

The reasonable person standard defines a relevant basis against which a defendant can be compared. Although the reasonable person referred to is fictional, it helps others, including the jurors, to visualize a person and how they may act within the context of a similar situation.

How Does a Reasonable Person Standard Impact Your Claim?

To prove negligence using the reasonable person standard, the attorney must show the following:

  • The potential for harm was foreseeable
  • The defendant was aware that his or her actions – or inactions – were wrong
  • The alternative actions that any reasonable person in that situation would have taken

The plaintiff’s attorney must make it clear how a reasonable person would have behaved in similar circumstances and how the defendant’s failure to do so caused injury to his or her client.

If the plaintiff’s attorney is unsuccessful, then the defendant may not be assessed with any fault. This shows why it is important to get legal representation from an attorney who has the experience, knowledge and a proven track record for cases like yours.

Examples of a Reasonable Person in an Injury Claim

Some examples of common scenarios that demonstrate how a reasonable person would behave include:

  • Reasonable drivers – A reasonable person would not risk endangering himself or herself – or others – by drinking and driving while under the influence of alcohol. If a defendant caused a car crash while driving drunk, causing the victim to suffer harm, then he or she may be held liable for the damages.
  • Reasonable business owners – A reasonable person would take steps to maintain his or her place of business, including fixing known hazards that could harm to customers or other visitors. Other actions a reasonable business owner might take could include:
    • Cleaning up spills as soon as they are discovered
    • Repairing uneven floor tiles – and warning guests about them until they are fixed
    • Replacing broken lights in hallways and other places as they are needed
    • Making sure there is sufficient security on the property
  • Reasonable nursing home caregivers – Caregivers responsible for turning a bed-ridden resident to prevent pressure sores would follow the proper turn schedule. If the caregiver did not follow through and the patient suffered pressure sore injuries, both the caregiver and nursing home facility could be liable.

Call Our Firm for Help with an Injury Claim

At PKSD, our experienced attorneys are dedicated to helping the injured throughout Wisconsin. We have decades of experience with many types of injury cases and have recovered millions in compensation for our clients.

Not sure if you have a case? It is easy and free to find out if you may be eligible to seek compensation. We offer a zero-cost, risk-free initial consultation to help determine your potential legal options. If we find you have a case, you are not obligated to hire our services. If we do represent you, there are no costs to pay up front or while we handle your case. We collect no payment on our services until the case concludes – and only if we recover compensation for you.

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