If you have been injured in a car crash or some other type of accident, recovery for your losses will depend on your Tacoma personal injury attorney proving that another person was negligent. The elements of negligence are duty, breach of duty, causation and damages. It may be said that the reasonable person standard is a test that is used to define one’s legal duty of care in interacting with others.
Duty of Care
The duty of care that exists between people or between a person and an entity such as a business is largely dependent on the nature of the relationship or the circumstances of the situation they are in. Some common relationships where a duty of care exits are:
- Property owners and those who enter the property. There are different duties of care for business property owners and home owners and varying standards depending on the status of the person who enters, such as a customer, invited guest, worker or trespasser.
- Manufacturers of products
- Business owners
General Duty of Care
The concept of a general duty of care evolved to include all those who could foreseeably be harmed by another’s conduct. Therefore, as a Tacoma car accident attorney can further explain, two motorists on the highway who have no previous relationship with each other have the duty to drive in a manner that will not cause the other harm. In consideration of the innumerable types of interactions and events that occur in the world, no specific code of conduct could be established to cover every instance. Consequently, a legal fiction was created to cover all situations: the reasonable person.
The Reasonable Person
In evaluating the facts and circumstances in a personal injury case, the parties’ actions will be compared to what a reasonable person would have done under the same or similar conditions. It is important to realize, as emphasized by a Tacoma car accident attorney, that the intent or mind set of the individual is immaterial; the reasonable person standard is an objective measure of whether the conduct was reasonably prudent under the circumstances. A jury may be called on to determine whether a defendant acted reasonably or not, and it is important that each juror apply this objective reasonable person test and not consider what he or she personally would have done.
Specialized Duty of Care
The nature of the relationship between two parties can create a special duty, such as a doctor/patient or attorney/client relationship. In cases such as these, the professional’s actions are judged against how a reasonable doctor or reasonable lawyer with the same or similar training and experience would have performed.
Similarly, persons with disabilities are held to a standard of how a reasonable person with that same disability would have acted in that situation. The law does not forgive a mentally disabled person for careless conduct but does allow for the possibility that he or she may have fewer options than does a fully able individual.
Extremely young children are not capable of making a reasonable choice, but as children approach age seven or eight, their conduct is evaluated by how a reasonable person of that age would act. An exception may apply if the child is engaged in an adult activity.
Contact Tacoma Personal Injury Attorney for Legal Advice
A personal injury case is very fact specific and can require extensive investigation. If you have been harmed by someone else’s negligence, you need experienced and knowledgeable counsel. Call Greene & Lloyd PLLC, a Tacoma personal injury attorney, at (253) 770-0808.