Personal Injury: Negligence Per Se

injury victim

One term sometimes used during in a personal injury case is “negligence per se.” This article will discuss what negligence per se is and how it might affect your personal injury case.

Negligence per se is a legal concept of fault that can be used in certain personal injury cases to prove negligence. Various jurisdictions define negligence per se in different ways, however, the differences are slight and generally, negligence per se applies when a defendant violates a specific law, and that is the underlying cause of the accident. According to the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute [negligence per se | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute (] negligence per se “means negligence in itself…a defendant who violates a statute or regulation without an excuse is automatically considered to have breached her duty of care and is therefore negligent as a matter of law.”  By proving a defendant violated the law, you do not need to prove anything further to show negligence. It is the violation of the law that proves the negligence.

The principle of negligence per se speaks of an act as being negligent when the violated law is one that has been designed and created to protect the public. This includes the violation as a few examples, of the following laws:

  • Speed limit laws
  • Driver blood alcohol content limits
  • Zoning codes
  • Building codes

The concept of negligence per se is a way to prove the negligence elements of duty of care and a breach of duty of care. As a result, there is no need to establish or demonstrate the manner in which the defendant acted in a careless manner when using the concept of negligence per se,  once the violation of law is proven.

So in a car accident, there is no need to argue as to how the defendant driver fell short of their duty of care; rather, the question is was the law violated or not. If it was, the question now focuses on whether this violation was the cause of your injuries or damages. If the driver was, for example, convicted of an infraction for driving through a red light,  that will be all that is needed to prove negligence.

In a personal injury case, one may bring the negligence per se allegation as a stand-alone claim, or it may included under a negligence cause of action filed in a personal injury case.

As with the legal concept of negligence, there is a need for the plaintiff to prove specific elements of their case. This requires a qualified and experienced car accident lawyer in Bakersfield. The lawyer must establish that:

  • A law was violated by the defendant – often this is easy to show in car accidents as the driver may be convicted of a traffic violation
  • The law was designed to prevent injury that thus occurred – most laws are clear as to their intent is to protect the public, and are designed to ensure the prevention of bodily injury or some form of harm. Often this is spelled out in the law text itself.
  • The plaintiff is among the class of persons to be protected by the law that was violated – the majority of laws that are in place are designed to protect the general public, therefore, proving that the law encompasses protection of the plaintiff may be easily established.

While negligence per se may appear to be pretty straightforward, it must be noted that there exist exceptions and these require legal experts to navigate successfully. Contact a personal injury lawyer for legal advice and representation in your case.

The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP is a full-service law firm serving Bakersfield, California and all of Kern County. Our firm is recognized as a leader in the community, and we offer and extensive and wide variety of legal services including, but not limited to water law, personal injury, business law, employment and labor law, estate planning, real estate, and much more. Please reach out today to talk to a member of our team.