In Missouri, negligence is determined through comparative negligence. In comparative negligence states, if you are partially at fault for your injury, you must subtract your percentage of fault from your compensation demand. To be negligent is to perform an action or fail to perform an action that leads to another person’s injury. To judge negligence, a person must act in a way that a reasonable person would not.
FindLaw defines a reasonable person as an ideal; it is how a person with ordinary prudence would act in specific circumstances. The court’s test as to whether a person is reasonable is objective. There is a standard of care in every situation. For instance, if a person hits a pedestrian with his or her car after ignoring a stop sign, he or failed to live up to the standard of care. A reasonable person would obey the stop sign. The courts use the same standard for everyone when judging who is reasonable.
In determining negligence, the court must also consider the defendant’s knowledge. For instance, if you suffer from a slip and fall in a grocery store, the store is only negligent if there was enough time for the store to discover the spill and to act accordingly. If a reasonable person could not have known about the spill, then it is not negligent. In addition to knowledge of the situation, the judge or jury takes into consideration what common knowledge may be at play. Common knowledge is a part of what a reasonable person would consider.
None of the above is legal advice. It is for educational purposes only.