Reasonable Person - Law 101
Hello, I'm attorney Kyle Bachus. The legal world is full of overly complicated jargon and terminology that can be intimidating if you don't know what it means. In my law 101 video series, I'm breaking down some commonly used legal terms so you can be informed and confident should you ever need to take legal action.
In this episode of law 101, we're going to break down the legal phrase reasonable person.
If you watch some of our other videos, we talked about torts, and we talked about negligence. And we talked about the obligation to act in society as a quote reasonable person. And if you act unreasonably towards others and cause harm, you could be civilly liable. Well, let's talk about what does it mean reasonable person? Well, reasonable person means a reasonable person acting under the same or similar circumstances to that in which the event occurs.
So let's say that you were a physically disabled person; you have to act as a reasonable person would who is physically disabled, okay? Let's say that you're a doctor; you have to act as a reasonable doctor should act under the same or similar circumstances. Or if you're a lawyer, you have to act as a reasonable lawyer should under the same or similar circumstances. Although reasonable person is an objective standard, it doesn't mean that it's applied the same for every single person or event.
It depends upon what a reasonable person who is the actor should be doing under the same or similar circumstances. Let me tell you one caveat that we often get asked, though. What if you're an intoxicated person? Can you act as a reasonable intoxicated person under the law? Well, the answer there is absolutely not. An intoxicated person is treated in terms of the reasonable person standard as acting as a reasonably sober person would under the same or similar circumstances even though they're intoxicated.
So that's what a reasonable person is under the law. When we're applying this reasonable person standard, we also get asked questions about children. Well, if you're 15 years old, you're judged as a reasonable 15-year-old. What would a reasonable 15-year-old do under the circumstances? If you're 10 years old, you're judged on a reasonable person standard as what would a reasonable 10-year-old do under the same or similar circumstances.
Most states have a bottom point at which there is no standard that's applied. So in most states, if you're seven years old or under, you don't have to act reasonably. There's no application of what a reasonable seven-year-old would do under the same or similar circumstances. And if you're below a certain age, say seven, you can't be held accountable for negligence because there's simply no standard of conduct under which you're expected to operate.
If you have a question about whether somebody has acted reasonably towards you in causing a harm to you, call Bachus & Schanker. We're happy to sit down with you and discuss with you this objective reasonable person standard, and how it impacts your particular situation. And to learn more about other law topics that can help you feel informed and confident about the law, make sure to check out more videos in this series.
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