In any Illinois personal injury case—a car accident, a workplace mishap, or a bicyclist or motorcyclist injury crash—there is one person who is repeatedly made a focal point of the injured victim’s case: the “reasonable person.” The victim’s entire case for compensation often rests on what this “reasonable person” would have done in the same situation. If a judge or jury believes the allegedly negligent defendant acted in the same manner as the reasonable person would have acted, then the injury victim’s case will fail. Conversely, if the defendant is determined to have behaved in a manner at odds with the how the reasonable person would have behaved, then the defendant will be found to have acted negligently and may be held responsible for the injured plaintiff’s losses.
Characteristics of the Reasonable Person
The reasonable person in personal injury cases is fictitious—he or she does not actually exist. Nonetheless, there are several characteristics about the reasonable person that are worth noting:
- The reasonable person acts objectively: The reasonable person will always act based upon reasonable and logical interpretations of the facts. The reasonable person, for instance, will never strike someone in self-defense unless there are sufficient facts that make it reasonable for him or her to believe that he or she is in imminent danger. If the defendant provides a justification for his or her actions, the justification provided is evaluated on the grounds of its reasonableness.
- The reasonable person is of the same age and background as the defendant: Although the reasonable person acts objectively, he or she acts in accordance with the age and experiences of the defendant. A defendant who is 18 years old is not expected to respond to a situation in the same manner as a defendant who is 35. Similarly, a defendant who has no medical background is not necessarily expected to act and respond to a situation in the same way as a defendant with such specialized training. A defendant living in a rural area and isolated from services like police and fire protection is likely to act differently from someone who lives in an urban area where such services are readily available.
- The judge or jury ultimately determines how the reasonable person acts in any given situation: In a personal injury case, both parties will attempt to convince the judge or jury as to how the reasonable person would have acted. It is up to the judge or jury to determine which version—or combination of versions—is the most appropriate.
Contact an Illinois Personal Injury Attorney
The success of your personal injury lawsuit depends in part on your attorney’s ability to paint a convincing picture of the reasonable person, demonstrating how careless the defendant’s actions actually were. Contact an experienced Kane County personal injury lawyer today to discuss your case. Call Kinnally Flaherty Krentz Loran Hodge & Masur, P.C. at 630-907-0909 for a free consultation.