“Reasonable person” standard an issue in nearly every personal injury case

Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Can I wait a few months to pursue a personal injury claim?”


Knowing what a “reasonable person” would have done in the circumstances of your personal injury case may determine whether you receive the compensation you deserve.

Truck wreck Charlotte Injury Lawyer Mecklenburg Accident AttorneyOf course, anyone who has been injured in an accident or as a result of someone’s intentional conduct believes one is entitled to compensation—a lot of compensation.

A lawyer may excuse potential clients for having unreasonable expectations. The lawyer sees and hears all the same online, television and radio advertisements exhorting people to call such-and-such law firm because, they are told “You may be entitled to significant compensation.”

Lawyers frequently battle over words and their meaning, and “significant compensation” could mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people.

In any case—and I mean any personal injury case—what does it take to get to there from here? In practical terms, how does an injured person wrest compensation out of the person or persons who caused one’s injury?

Many—perhaps most—personal injury cases involve motor vehicles. Motor vehicle cases present an easy example of a “party with money” because drivers are required by law to carry liability insurance. Most people who drive, therefore, do so under the umbrella of their own or someone else’s liability insurance. The insurer is the “party with money.” If an insured driver causes an accident, an injured party knows, with relative certainty, the insurance company covering the accident has enough money to pay up if a judgment is obtained.

How is a judgment obtained? That’s where the “reasonable person” comes in.

You were injured. Another driver cut you off, pulled out in front of you, stopped suddenly and inexplicably. The other driver was negligent.

That’s your argument, but you have to prove your case, and proving negligence is not always as straightforward as it might appear.

First, you must show that the person you injured you had a duty to prevent the kind of harm you suffered. Again, to use an easy example, drivers have a duty to exercise “reasonable care.”

This is the kind of care that a “reasonable person” would exercise under the circumstances. If a person fell short of this standard, the person “breached” the “duty.” Even if a “reasonable person” breached the duty to exercise “reasonable care,” the person is not liable unless the breach caused your injury.

A person driving the wrong way down Interstate 77 did not cause the tornado that blew down your house. That’s easy enough to stomach, but what if you were standing on a bridge and the wrong-way driver swerved to avoid an oncoming truck, which caused the driver to strike one of the bridge’s piers, causing the bridge to fall, thereby injuring you?

Was it reasonable for the wrong-way driver to anticipate that driving the wrong way on the Interstate might lead to a collision that would cause a bridge to collapse, thereby injuring someone standing on the bridge?

Sounds like a fight brewing between lawyers over the meaning of a word.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of someone’s negligent or intentional conduct, please do not hesitate to contact me to set up an appointment today. If you or someone you know has any questions regarding potential personal injury claims, feel free to contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC in Charlotte, North Carolina for a free consultation. Call toll free at (955) 370-2828 or click here for additional resources.



About the Author

ARNOLD & SMITH LAWMatthew Arnold is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of family law, divorce, child custody, child support, alimony and equitable distribution.

Mr. Arnold was raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.

In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.







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