A lady justice statue holding scales beside the words what is negligence per se?

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The most important element of most personal injury cases is proving negligence. In order to win, an injured party has to prove that their injuries were caused by the negligence of another. The law recognizes multiple types of negligence – one of which is known as negligence per se. Cases involving negligence per se are distinct in that the negligence doesn’t need to be proved. Here is a detailed outline of what negligence per se is and how cases involving this type of negligence work:

Definition of Negligence Per Se

Negligence per se occurs when someone violates a law intended to protect others. Unlike in other negligence cases, there is no need to compare the person’s actions to those a reasonable person would take because there’s proof that the defendant performed a criminal act. In these cases, the offender is automatically considered negligent, and the only thing that the crime victim needs to prove is that they were harmed as a direct result of the negligence.

Negligence Per Se Vs. Standard Negligence

In standard negligence cases, a person’s actions are compared to that of a reasonable person. For example, if a property owner does not put down salt or remove ice from their sidewalks after an ice storm, they may be considered negligent. The belief is that a reasonable person would make sure their walkways are safe and passable even though there isn’t a law requiring them to do so.

In negligence per se cases, however, there is no need to prove that someone had a reasonable duty to take certain actions but that they failed to do so. This is because the defendant broke an actual law designed to keep people safe; the act of breaking the law is all that is needed to prove negligence.

Examples of Negligence Per Se Cases

A wide variety of claims may fall under the negligence per se umbrella, including:

  • Injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents caused by drunk driving, speeding, violation of traffic laws, or distracted driving
  • Injuries attributed to building code, health code, or safety code violations
  • Death or harm caused by someone practicing medicine without a license
  • Harm sustained as a result of being refused emergency medical care
  • Work injuries that occur because an employer failed to provide instructions/information about hazardous chemicals in the workplace.

Proving Negligence Per Se

To win a negligence per se case, you must be able to prove the following four things:

  1. That a law was violated.
  2. That the law falls under criminal – and not civil – statutes, and that the law is punishable by criminal penalty.
  3. That the law’s intent is to protect people/public from the type of injury that ultimately occurred.
  4. That you are a member of the protected class the law is supposed to protect.

You must also prove that your injury happened as a direct result of the defendant’s violation of the law in question.

If you sustained injuries due to someone else’s criminal actions, it’s vital that you contact the Dallas personal injury attorneys at Hernandez Law Group, P.C. Hernandez is a Texas board-certified personal injury attorney – a designation shared by only 2% of Texas attorneys.