reasonable person test – a hypothetical person used as a legal standard, especially to determine if someone acted with negligence

     This page is continued from Civil Law Self-Help >>>> Section 1; Torts, Breach of Contract, and Assessing Liability >>>> Torts >>>> Basic Classifications of Torts >>>> Negligent Tort >>>> Negligence:



reasonable person:

1. A hypothetical person used as a legal standard, especially to determine whether someone acted with negligence; specifically, a person who exercises the degree of attention, knowledge, intelligence, and judgment that society requires of its members for the protections of their own and others’ interests.  *  The reasonable person acts sensibly, does things without serious delay, and takes proper but not excessive precautions.
     See Restatement (Second) of Torts § 283(b). — aka reasonable man; prudent person; ordinarily prudent person; reasonably prudent person; highly prudent person.  See reasonable care under CARE (2). [1]

     Excerpt from R.F.V. Heuston’s Salmond on the Law of Torts 56 (17th ed. 1977):

     “The reasonable man connotes a person whose notions and standards of behaviour and responsibility correspond with those generally obtained among ordinary people in our society at the present time, who seldom allows his emotions to overbear his reason and whose habits are moderate and whose disposition is equable.  he is not necessarily the same as the average man — a term which implies an amalgamation of counter-balancing extremes. [2]

reasonable man rule:

1. The rule that in review of an administrative determination, the court will not substitute its judgment or discretion for that of the agency, but will deem the evidence to support of the order sufficient where it is such that a reasonable man considering it would make the same determination. 2 Am J2d Admin L § 686. [3]

reasonable man test:

1. A standard for determining negligence, which asks: “What would a reasonable person have done in the same circumstances?”  in short, it measures the failure to do that which a person of ordinary intelligence and judgment would have done in the circumstances, or the doing o that which a person of ordinary intelligence and judgement would not have done. [4]


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[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6.

[2]: R.F.V. Heuston’s Salmond on the Law of Torts 56 (17th ed. 1977)

[3]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[4]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.


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