One important component of proving a negligence claim entails comparing the at-fault party’s behavior with how a “reasonably prudent person” would act given the same circumstances. This is often referred to as the “reasonable person standard.”
How Do You Prove a Negligence Claim in Austin, TX?
To better understand the reasonably prudent person standard – sometimes called the reasonable man standard – let’s first look at the elements of a negligence claim. A defendant is negligent if they fail to act as a reasonably prudent person would under similar circumstances. To prove a negligence claim in Texas, a plaintiff must prove the following:
- Duty. The defendant had an obligation to conform to a certain standard of care toward the plaintiff. The normal standard of care is to act the way a reasonably prudent person would under the same or similar circumstances.
- Breach. The defendant breached that duty or violated the required standard of care.
- Causation. The defendant’s action or inaction was the factual and proximate cause of the defendant’s injuries.
- Damages. The plaintiff suffered injuries or some type of loss.
For example, when driving on a public road, one has a duty to drive safely and with a reasonable amount of caution and concern for other drivers. Imagine that another driver is speeding down the road and is unable to stop at a red light before rear-ending your vehicle, and you suffer injuries as a result. The other driver might be found negligent because they breached the duty of care of driving as a reasonable person would in that scenario.
As you can imagine, the crux of a negligence claim often is whether you can show that the defendant did not act reasonably. But what exactly does that mean?
What Is the Reasonable Person Standard in Austin, TX?
The reasonable person standard refers to a hypothetical person who approaches a situation with the proper amount of caution and acts sensibly. It is a legal fiction created by courts and legal minds to help judges and juries determine whether a defendant’s actions were negligent. Essentially, it is an example of what appropriate action would have looked like so that the judge or jury have something to which they can compare the defendant’s actions.
The reasonable person standard is meant to be an attainable standard that an ordinary person could have satisfied under the circumstances. The reasonable person referred to in this standard does not have to be a perfect person. Some mistakes or errors of judgment are reasonable in certain situations. Rather, the reasonable person is someone of ordinary care, caution, and consideration.
An Exception to the Reasonable Person Standard
An important exception to the reasonable person standard concerns children. In most circumstances, children are not held to the same standard of care as adults. That is, they aren’t expected to behave with the same level of care and caution that a reasonable adult would.
Instead, their conduct is compared to that of a child of similar age, experience, and knowledge. However, children can be held to the adult standard of care while doing certain activities, such as driving a car.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer in Austin, TX About Your Negligence Case
If you were injured by someone who failed to act in a reasonable manner, then you may be able to recover compensation based on that person’s negligence. An experienced Austin personal injury lawyer can help you explore your options and next steps. Contact FVF Law Injury Attorneys today to schedule a free consultation.