Many personal injury cases hinge on the distinction legal rules draw between subjective and objective analysis of the facts surrounding the plaintiff’s injuries. Sometimes the subjective facts are central: did the defendant see the plaintiff before hitting her with his car, or not? But legal rules that are at the heart of personal injury cases in Nevada try to distance the analysis from the subjective recollections of the people involved, by asking instead whether their actions were the sort that a reasonable person would take under the circumstances. Lawyers spend a lot of time crafting arguments and assembling evidence to show what the “reasonable person” would do in a given situation.
The reasonable person is a kind of measuring stick
Many legal rules ask the question: “Was the action reasonable under the circumstances?” Notice that this question doesn’t ask if the action was reasonable in the opinion of the person who did it. Instead, the reasonableness standard asks judges and jurors to take a step back from the subjective experience of the people involved in the case to ask if an ordinary prudent person make the same choice, all things taken into account. The goal is to lend a degree of objectivity to the analysis in hopes of reaching a fairer outcome for everyone involved.
In many personal injury cases that go to trial, the reasonable person standard can play a big role in the way jurors are instructed to assess the facts and circumstances of the case. Would a reasonably prudent person opt to have surgery under the circumstances? Would a reasonable person have reacted to an oncoming car by slamming on her brakes? Would a reasonable person have climbed a ladder knowing that it was broken?
Reasonableness is central to many legal rules
Whether something was reasonable comes up many times in a personal injury case. Here are a few examples:
- Negligence. Personal injury lawsuits in Nevada focus on whether the defendant caused the plaintiff’s injuries by acting negligently. One of the elements of negligence asks whether the defendant took reasonable steps to protect the plaintiff from harm. A landowner who leaves an aggressive dog off leash because he believes leashes are cruel probably hasn’t acted reasonably to protect others from being bitten.
- Mitigating damages. A plaintiff is required to have taken reasonable steps to mitigate the damages that resulted from the initial injury. A plaintiff who refuses all medical treatment because she’s terrified of hospitals won’t be compensated for her worsening condition, because she didn’t act the way a reasonable person would.
- Expense reimbursement. A plaintiff’s costs associated with treatment, lost income, and attorneys fees must be reasonable to be recoverable. When it comes to costs, expert testimony is often required to show that medical bills weren’t inflated or the attorneys weren’t overbilling.
Experienced personal injury lawyers understand the reasonable person
The attorneys at GGRM have been navigating the complex rules of personal injury litigation for decades. Let our expertise help you get the compensation you deserve. For a free consultation with an attorney call us today at 702-388-4476, or send us a request through our site.