How Does Negligence Per Se Affect an Accident Claim?

judge hitting a gavelWhen filing a claim after an accident, the victim must prove his or her damages were the direct result of another party’s negligence. In most accident cases, the injured party must prove ordinary negligence.

However, there is also the doctrine of negligence per se. Negligence per se is when someone violates a law, and in doing so, causes injuries to another person.

If you were injured by someone who broke a law, you have the right to pursue compensation for your damages. Call our Sacramento car crash lawyers today to discuss your claim.

Below, we discuss how negligence per se may affect the way an accident claim is handled.

What Are the Elements of Negligence Per Se?

To prove someone is guilty of negligence per se, the injured party must prove all the elements of a negligence per se case. These elements are as follows:

  • A law exists to protect a certain class of individual from harm
  • An individual broke the law
  • The individual who was meant to be protected by the law was injured

Another way to think about these elements is to consider cases of drunk drivers who cause a crash.

It is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol. This action is illegal because doing so would endanger the lives of others who share the road. When a driver gets behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated and causes an accident, the victims of said accident directly experienced harm that the law intended to avoid.

How Does Negligence Per Se Differ From Ordinary Negligence?

In a negligence per se case, the individual who caused the accident must be guilty of breaking a law specifically meant to protect a certain class of individual, and the individual who was injured by the breaking of that law must belong to that class.

In ordinary negligence cases, the person need only have acted negligently. In other words, the person must not have acted the way a reasonable person would have acted in a similar situation.

Sometimes, establishing that someone acted negligently can be more difficult than proving someone broke a law. This may be especially true in car accident cases, as collisions usually occur because one driver broke a traffic law.

How Can the Liable Party Defend Against a Negligence Per Se Claim?

Negligence per se cases can be challenged. In other words, the liable party can defend against the accusation that he or she violated a law.

In some circumstances, it could be considered reasonable to violate a law, causing injuries to another, and not be guilty of negligence per se. This means the burden of proof is now on the liable party, though.

The liable party could provide evidence to prove the following:

  • Reasonable care was taken to comply with the law
  • Complying with the law posed a greater risk of harm
  • An emergency situation forced him or her not to comply with the law

If the liable party cannot prove his or her violation of the law was justified, then you may be able to proceed to prove his or her actions directly resulted in your injuries.

Is Proving Causation Necessary in a Negligence Per Se Claim?

In all negligence cases, the injured party must prove he or she suffered damages due to the actions of another individual. Therefore, proving causation is necessary in a negligence per se case.

To prove someone else’s illegal actions resulted in your injuries is similar to proving causation in ordinary negligence cases. It is important to get immediate medical attention to help link your injuries to the accident.

Are There Limitations to Negligence Per Se?

Accident victims only have a valid negligence per se case if the perpetrator broke a law specifically intended to protect the victim of the accident.

If there is no law, then there is no case. If there is a law, but the law is not intended to protect the class of persons pursuing compensation, then there is no case.

However, many laws are written to protect a wide variety of classes of individuals. This includes traffic laws, which are intended to prevent vehicle collisions that would result in injuries or death. These laws are also intended to protect pedestrians, motorcyclists, bicyclists and others who share the road.

Therefore, most accident cases may involve negligence per se.

Need Help Filing a Claim? Call Us Today

Breaking the law may come with criminal consequences, including fines or even jail time. However, there are also civil consequences when someone’s illegal activities injure another person.

For the civil aspect of a case, you should strongly consider working with our knowledgeable attorneys.

We offer a free legal consultation, and there are no upfront fees.

Call 916-777-7777 today.