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Assessing Standards of Reasonableness


Personal Injury

In general, we are entitled to an expectation that persons having ownership, possession, or control of property or premises will take reasonable precautions to ensure that others are able to safely occupy such property without being injured. This general duty to maintain property in a reasonably safe condition applies to most situations where a person is present in a location which they are legally entitled to be. Assessing what is reasonable in a particular scenario is key to establishing liability in premise liability actions. The accident and injury attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Yochim P.A., offer the following to assist victims in grasping a full understanding of concepts of reasonableness.

In order to understand standards of reasonableness, it helps to understand the manner in which this assessment is approached from a legal perspective. Issues arising in negligence claims can be a matter of law, while others are a matter of factual circumstances. Matters of law involve statutory or procedural requirements, such as time limitations (aka statute of limitations) or notice requirements for bringing an action, or where the defendant is exempt or immune from liability. Matters of fact, involve issues which cannot be easily disposed of before allowing the claimant the opportunity to be heard, in cases where the plaintiff has properly alleged all necessary elements to a claim.

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What is considered reasonable in a given scenarios, is an issue that is usually construed as a matter of fact. For claimants, this distinction between fact and law is crucial in terms of determining the presence or absence of reasonableness, unreasonableness, negligence, or a similar issue related to the factual circumstances of a particular slip & fall incident. As a general rule, matters of fact cannot be easily disposed of by a court prior to allowing a claimant the opportunity to present evidence in support of such claim, in other words, going to trial.

Assessing reasonableness is often in the eye of the beholder. Statutory language, regulation, case law, nor any other regulatory authority could ever possibly provide guidance or rule making for every unique instance where an accident may occur. For this reason, issues involving matters of fact, in which a reasonable person could arrive at different conclusions, are questions that should remain in the hands of a jury to decide. As such, establishing liability requires the committed effort of a legal professional who has identified a breach of a duty owed to another, and who will fight aggressively to obtain any and all compensation that the victim is legally entitled to after fully understanding and exploiting all the facts.