In personal injury lawsuits, the terms “reasonable care” and “negligence” get thrown around quite a bit, but the average individual may not understand what they mean from a legal standpoint or know how they relate to a specific injury or accident. If you are involved in a personal injury lawsuit stemming from injuries you sustained from an accident, you need to know what impact reasonable care will have on your case.
“Reasonable care” refers to the duty that an average rational, prudent person would use in a given situation. For instance, take the example of a car accident caused by a driver who was going too fast on a winding road late at night. The average driver has a duty to drive cautiously and take appropriate precautions for the road he or she is on.
A winding road late night is a bad place to be speeding, and a driver should follow the posted speed limits, pay attention to the road, slow down and take the curves and sharp corners cautiously. This is the driver’s duty of “reasonable care.”
Accidents happen even if a driver is taking every precaution. But what makes a car accident a matter of negligence is when a driver is not taking those precautions, and is not acting with reasonable care in a given situation, and causes an accident. If a driver violates his or her duty of reasonable care and crashes into another car, or hits a pedestrian, he can be held responsible for the damages, and any injuries caused.
Reasonable Care and the Reasonable Person
The legal idea of “reasonable care” is based on the idea of the “reasonable person.” A reasonable person — a fictional standard of humanity — is one who acts appropriately for every situation. This is a person who takes average caution and, on average, responds accordingly.
In a personal injury case, the jury is asked to focus on a comparison between the defendant’s actions and the actions of a “reasonable person.” This determination does not take into account a defendant’s particular background, intelligence level or abilities. By this logic, a person with lower intelligence, a careless person and a highly intelligent person will all be held to the same standards.
The jury also considers a defendant’s conduct in terms of what the defendant knows and has experienced in his or her life and in terms of the common knowledge available to the community.
Exceptions to the Reasonable Care Standard
There are some exceptions to the standards set forth for the reasonable person. A child, for example, is not expected to act as a reasonable person. Part of the reasonable person’s rationale comes from age, experience, and maturity — all of which a child is waiting to grow into.
The mentally disabled are also not held to reasonable standards either. People with disabilities are held to the standard that would be expected of a person with the same or similar limitations.
Understanding what reasonable care is and how it affects a person’s actions and responsibilities are critical to your personal injury lawsuit. If you have been injured in a car accident or other accident and you need representation, contact the Denver personal injury attorneys at Levine Law for a consultation today.