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A party placed in a sudden emergency will be judged according to a reasonable person under the same sudden emergency.


THE RESTATEMENT (SECOND) OF TORTS § 296 (1965), discusses 'emergency' as follows: (1) In determining whether conduct is negligent toward another, the fact that the actor is confronted with a sudden emergency which requires rapid decision is a factor in determining the reasonable character of his choice of action. (2) The fact that the actor is not negligent after the emergency has arisen does not preclude his liability for his tortious conduct which had produced the emergency.


Thus, a sudden emergency instruction tells the jury that in the absence of antecedent negligence, a person confronted with a sudden emergency that deprives him of time to contemplate the best reaction cannot be held to the same standard of care and accuracy of choice as one who has time to deliberate. See Jeffrey F. Ghent, Annotation Modern Status of Sudden Emergency Doctrine, 10 A.L.R.5th 680, 687 (1993). Criticism of this doctrine has focused on its ability to confuse a jury as to (1) whether the reasonable person standard of care or some lower standard, applies in an emergency; and ...

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