There are many ways to define the term "reasonable person." For people living in Denver, a reasonable person would likely
be described as someone who acts reasonably, does not expect too much from others and generally gets
along with others. In legal situations, however, the term "reasonable person" takes on a different
meaning, often depending upon the situation at hand. Barrons’ Law Dictionary, citing the Restatement
of Torts 2d, defines a reasonable person as "someone who uses such qualities as attention, knowledge,
intelligence and judgment which a society requires of its members to protect their own interests
and the interests of others." Sounds reasonable, correct? Often it is the question of how a reasonable
person would react that makes clients bring their case to an accident attorney.
Colorado attorneys who handle civil tort cases often need to explain to clients that the term "reasonable person" has nothing to do with a person’s ability to reason. It actually looks at the prudence shown by someone in how she or he acts in a specific situation. The term is sometimes interchangeable with the "reasonably prudent person" or the "ordinarily prudent person."
In civil cases, the reasonable person test compares how an individual’s behavior in a situation compares with the behavior of a hypothetical reasonable person in the same set of events. In a contract dispute, courts will look to how a reasonable person would have interpreted the terms of a contract. In a tort case, which is the type of case typically handled by an accident attorney, Colorado courts use often use the reasonable person standard to determine whether or not a defendant’s actions were what a reasonably prudent person in the same or similar circumstances would take. If the defendant’s actions are found to be those of a reasonable person, they may not be found liable for any negligence. Defining a reasonable person for the purposes of a civil law case is not an easy task.