In a personal injury case, a common allegation made against a defendant is negligence. Another allegation is known as negligence per se. Because of this major distinction between a negligence case and one involving negligence per se, it is important for a person to have a basic understanding of the concept of negligence per se.
The Legal Meaning of Negligence Per Se
Negligence per se stems from the violation of a law designed to protect the health and welfare of the public. If an injured party demonstrates that another party violated a law, there is no need for the injured person to demonstrate that the person who caused the accident failed to act in a reasonable manner (see negligence).
In other words, the party causing the accident is deemed negligent because he or she violated a specific law designed to protect the health and welfare of the general public.
Proving a Case Alleging Negligence Per Se
Three elements must be proven by an injured person to prevail in a claim alleging negligence per se. This trio of elements are:
- A violation of the law
- The law was designed to protect the welfare of others
- The injured person is in a class of people law exists to protect
An example of a law that establishes the basis for a negligence per se claim is a statute pertaining to driving under the influence of alcohol. The law is designed to protect the welfare of the general public. A person injured in a car accident by an intoxicated driver is considered to be part of the class of individuals the law prohibiting driving under the influence of alcohol is designed to protect.
Proof in a Negligence Per Case
As noted previously, in a negligence per se case, if a law designed to protect the health and welfare of the general public is violated, an injured person need not demonstrate that the person who caused the accident acted carelessly. Rather, the mere fact that the person who caused the accident violated the law in question establishes that an individual’s negligence in a particular claim.
An attorney experienced in personal injury law can protect an injured person’s rights and interests in a negligence per se case. A personal injury lawyer will schedule an initial consultation to discuss a specific case. Typically, a personal injury attorney does not charge a fee for an initial consultation.