Negligence: Standards of Care

All foreseeable plaintiffs are owed a duty of care. However, different standards of care apply in various specific situations. To determine whether a defendant has breached his or her duty of care, one must analyze the applicable standard of care. 

Basis Reasonable Person Standard of Care

The basic reasonable person standard is measured by what the average person would do, thus, it is an objective standard.  This standard does not take into account those who act with extreme caution or those who have inexperience in certain situations. However, a person acting with this basic standard of care should consider any normal abilities they lack. For instance, a blind person should not drive a vehicle. It is important to note that a person who possesses knowledge greater than the average person should exercise that heightened level of experience. 

Professional Standard of Care

Professionals, or those with special or trained skills, are held to the standard of care of other members in the same setting. For example, doctors are usually held to a national standard of care that most would expect a doctor to possess when determining if their conduct fell below their standard of care. 

Standard of Care of Children

Children are held to the standard of care of a similarly situated child of the same age, education, intelligence, and experience. The children standard of care is based on a subjective standard – meaning – each situation is determined on a case by case basis. There are two exceptions: (1) a child under five years of age typically does not have the capacity to be held negligent; and (2) if a child engages in adult activities, the child could be held to an adult reasonable person standard of care. For example, if a child steals a car, drives it and injures someone, he or she could be held to an adult standard of care for engaging in an adult activity. 

Common Carriers and Innkeepers 

Common carriers involve those who owe a duty to passengers in their possession and innkeepers involve those who owe a duty to guests staying at their facilities. An example of a common carrier is a bus company, such as Greyhound, and an example of an innkeeper is any hotel. Common carriers and innkeepers are held to an extremely high duty of care and are often held liable for even the slightest degree of negligent activity. 

Passengers in an Automobile

Passengers in automobiles are owed a normal ordinary person standard of care. In some jurisdictions, automobile drivers are liable to passengers when the driver engages in reckless tortious activity. 

Emergency Situations

Individuals must act like a basic reasonable person would in the same emergency situation. However, if an individual created the emergency on his or her own, the emergency is not considered when determining the applicable standard of care. 

Which Standard of Care Applies?

If you have been injured by the negligence of another, you must determine if the defendant owed you a duty and whether the defendant breached that duty. Determining which standard of care is applicable to the defendant’s action is essential. It is important to work with an experienced attorney who can help determine what standard of care applies and if the defendant fell below that standard of care. Once the standard of care has been discovered, an experienced product defect lawyer in Las Vegas, NV will help transition your negligence case to the next level. 

Thanks to Eglet Adams for their insight into personal injury claims and the various standards of care in negligence cases.