Category: Personal Injury

What’s a “Reasonable” Person When it Comes to Negligence?

For most personal injury claims, you must prove that the other party was negligent to recover compensation for your damages. 

Negligence is the basis for injury claims arising from:

  • Medical malpractice
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Dog bites and animal attacks
  • Premises liability claims
  • Construction accidents
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Scooter and ATV accidents

Almost every type of personal injury case involves a negligence claim. Whether a person was negligent is based on what a “reasonable person” would have done in a similar situation. However, who is considered a “reasonable person?”

Who is Considered a Reasonable Person?

A “reasonable person” is subjective. It is a model for judging the reasonableness of another party’s conduct. There is no specific definition of a reasonable person.

In most cases, a reasonable person is defined as someone who uses ordinary prudence. In other words, the person uses a reasonable level of cautiousness in approaching a given situation. A reasonable person considers a situation and acts with common sense based on the circumstances.

For example, a reasonable person knows that texting while driving and speeding through a school zone are dangerous driving behaviors. Therefore, a reasonable person does not engage in these behaviors. 

Another example might be a store owner failing to clean up a spill. A reasonable person knows that a spill makes the floor slippery. If they do not clean it, the spill could cause someone to fall. Therefore, a reasonable person would clean up the spill as quickly as possible or take other steps to prevent someone from falling.

The Reasonable Person Standard is Not the Same in Every Case

The facts and circumstances of the case dictate the standard used for a reasonable person. Using this standard does not mean that a person must be perfect. It only means that the person acted with reasonable prudence.

If a reasonable person would have made the same mistake or error, the party who caused the injury may not be liable for damages. There are also instances in which a situation was not within someone’s control. If the injury was unavoidable, a party might not be liable for damages. 

Children Are an Exception to the Reasonable Person Standard

Children may be exempted from the reasonable person standard in some cases. A child lacks the knowledge and maturity of an adult. For that reason, a child cannot be expected to act with the same level of prudence and reasonableness as an adult in certain situations. 

The court may apply a modified standard for the reasonable person test for children. The child’s actions may be measured against what a child of the same age, knowledge, and experience would do in a given situation. 

The court uses the facts of the case to determine what standard should apply. Therefore, it is difficult to determine in advance what a judge may rule in these types of cases. 

Who Decides What a Reasonable Person Would Do in a Given Situation?

The jurors stand in the shoes of the reasonable person. They listen to the evidence presented by each party to determine the facts of the case. They decide what a reasonable person would have done under similar circumstances.

The jury must decide if the risk was foreseeable. Suppose a risk was foreseeable and the person proceeded with this knowledge and without regard to the risk of harm or injury to another person. In that case, the jury may find the person’s conduct was not reasonable. 

Personal injury lawyers often argue that the defendant could have taken steps to prevent the injury or harm. The hypothetical “reasonable person” can play a significant role in whether you recover compensation for your damages.

Proving Negligence in a Personal Injury Case

To prove negligence, you must show that:

  • The person owed you a duty of care
  • The person breached the duty of care
  • The breach of duty caused your injuries
  • You sustained damages because of the person’s conduct

Jurors may have strong opinions about what constitutes reasonableness. Reasonableness is used to judge whether the person breached the duty of care. If you cannot convince the jury that the person breached the duty of care, you cannot recover compensation for your economic damages (financial losses) or your pain & suffering damages

Something Was Stolen From My Hotel Room—Who’s Liable?

Something Was Stolen From My Hotel Room—Who’s Liable?

Imagine you are on the road and decide to spend the night at a hotel. You check in, carry your stuff to your room, and get settled. Over the course of the night and the next morning, you are in and out of the room—checking out the pool, exercise room, and breakfast. When you gather your things to leave, you realize your laptop is missing. After further investigation, it becomes clear it was stolen. 

While we all hope this nightmare scenario never happens, it is good to be prepared and understand the law regarding such an issue. More specifically, if something is stolen from your hotel room, who is liable?

While there is no easy answer to that question and there are a thousand different factors that could produce a thousand different answers—which state you are in, whether or not there is clear signage noting the hotel’s liability and policy, whether or not there is a safe—there are several general rules that can help determine liability when something is stolen from your hotel room.

Innkeepers Laws

Just about every state in the country has what are known as Innkeepers Laws. Innkeepers laws govern a range of issues related to hotels and the entire hospitality industry. For example, innkeepers laws cover things like:

  • Evictions
  • Overbooking
  • Security

Innkeepers laws also cover the issue of liability when something is stolen. Because dollar amounts and exact verbiage of the laws vary from state to state, it is important to understand the rules in each state to which you travel. 

By way of example, consider the innkeepers laws in the state of Massachusetts. In the Bay State, a hotel is only liable for up to $300 of lost property for things like luggage, clothing, and money. However, if you deposit money or jewelry to be watched by the hotel, their liability goes up to $1000.

Other states might have rules about safes in the room and signage stating the hotel’s policy and liability limit. For example, if one of your valuables is stolen and you hadn’t put it in the safe then the hotel might not be liable. 

Also, generally speaking, hotels are not at fault if your loss of property is the result of an act of nature such as a hurricane or earthquake, or if it is the result of civil unrest such as a protest or riot. 

Tips for Keeping Your Stuff Safe While Traveling

For the most part, innkeepers laws tend to favor hotels and inns. For that reason, it is important you educate yourself before you hit the road. You will want to make sure you read the hotel’s policy on items that are stolen and what you have to do to make sure your valuables are protected. 

If a hotel room you are staying in has a safe, you might want to consider placing your valuable items inside of it whenever you are not in the room. 

One other option that might be a good idea is traveler’s insurance. Most traveler’s insurance policies cover items that are stolen from a hotel room. Of course, the amount covered depends on the policy so you will want to make sure you get a policy that meets your needs.

Finally, if something was stolen from your room and you feel the hotel is responsible but they are stonewalling you, you may want to consider contacting a personal injury lawyer. A good lawyer will be able to investigate your case and determine whether or not the hotel should pay up. 

Of course, not every item that is stolen will warrant legal action. But if you have had something truly valuable stolen from your hotel room, there might be steps you can take to seek justice.

How Much Damage Occurs in a 30 MPH Crash?

How Much Damage Occurs in a 30 MPH Crash?

How fast is too fast to drive? Speed limits are designed to reduce the risk of accidents. The limits are based on numerous factors and calculations that determine the maximum safe speed for a given stretch of road. 

Speeding is a leading cause of car accidents. During 2017, speed was a contributing factor in about one-fourth of all fatal traffic accidents. As a driver increases the speed of the vehicle, several factors come into play:

  • The risk of an accident increases
  • It takes longer for the vehicle to stop
  • There is an increase in the severity of the crash and crash injuries
  • Occupant protection equipment is not as effective 

While there is a great deal of focus placed on excessive speeds, crashes occurring at just 30 mph can result in considerable damage, traumatic injuries, and loss of life.

What Happens During a Collision?

When a vehicle collides with another vehicle or object, the vehicle absorbs some of the energy from the impact and slows down as a result. Simultaneously, its frame may crumble and be crushed because of the force of the impact.

Even in a 30 mph crash, a vehicle can sustain substantial damage to the frame and other components. The amount of damage to the vehicle also depends on other factors such as:

  • The age, model, and condition of the vehicle
  • The type of vehicle or object struck
  • Whether the driver applied the brakes before the collision
  • The speed of the other vehicle
  • The type of crash that occurred (i.e., head-on collision, sideswipe, rear-end accident, side-impact, etc.)

When accident reconstructionists investigate a crash, they consider the vehicle’s speed and all other factors when examining the vehicle’s level of damage.

Impact on the Vehicle’s Occupants

At the time of the crash, the people in the car continue moving at the same speed the vehicle was traveling until they are stopped for an external force. The external force could be the seatbelt or airbags. It could also be hitting the dashboard, window, or the back of a seat. 

Wearing a seatbelt is the best way to protect yourself in a crash. The seat belt absorbs much of the energy that your body would absorb if it were thrown into the dashboard or another object within the vehicle. By absorbing some of the energy from the crash, the seatbelt helps reduce the severity of injuries or prevent them altogether.

Impact on Internal Organs

Some sources refer to this stage of a car wreck as the internal collision. Even though a passenger is wearing a seatbelt and the seatbelt stops the person’s body from moving forward, the person’s internal organs remain in motion until they strike bones or other internal organs.

For example, traumatic brain injury can occur even though the occupant did not hit their head during the crash. The sudden stop in forward motion causes the brain to strike the skull, which can cause contusions, bleeding, tears, and other damage to the brain. Brain damage can result in permanent disabilities and impairments. 

A 30 mph crash has the potential of causing traumatic organ damage to the brain, heart, kidneys, liver, and other organs. 

Filing Personal Injury Claims for a Low-Speed Car Accident 

Car accidents that occur at lower speeds can still result in significant injuries and damages. However, many insurance providers downplay low-speed car accidents by claiming that the lower speeds reduce the severity of injuries. However, there are many studies and sources that contradict those allegations.

It is best to see a doctor as soon as possible after a car accident, regardless of the severity of the crash or whether you believe you sustained injuries. Internal organ damage, whiplash, brain injuries, and other types of injuries may be difficult to recognize without medical treatment.

Furthermore, documenting your injuries with medical records immediately after the accident makes it more difficult for the other party to argue that the crash did not cause your injuries. 

Your doctor may tell you to rest and report any changes in your condition. Even so, you have a record of the symptoms you experienced after the crash in case your condition worsens, or you discover an injury that was not known immediately after the accident.

Do Not Give In or Give Up 

Do not give up the pursuit of your personal injury claim if you sustained injuries in the crash. If the other driver and the insurance company continue to deny your injury claim, seek assistance from an injury lawyer. Make sure you know your legal rights and take steps to protect your best interests.