Q: What is negligence per se?
Negligence per se involves the commission of a negligent act that violates the law. This differs from ordinary negligence, which consists of actions contrary to those of a reasonable person. Since negligence per se involves the blatant violation of a safety regulation, it's a more serious offense.
To understand negligence per se, we must first understand ordinary negligence. When a driver is sued for causing an accident, the litigation filed against him is typically based on a theory of negligence. Negligence occurs when a driver fails in his common law duty to adhere to a standard of reasonable care. While he hasn’t necessarily violated the law, he has behaved in a manner that is not expected of a reasonable person.
Some of the most common examples of ordinary negligence include:
- Driving while fatigued
- Lack of vehicle maintenance
- Aggressive driving behaviors
- Failing to keep a proper lookout
Negligence Per Se
Many traffic laws are written to explicitly prohibit conduct that is harmful to others. When a driver violates one of these laws, his actions are considered to be inherently negligent. Therefore, negligence per se litigation involves proving the driver broke a law intended to prevent injury.
Typical examples of negligence per se include:
- Street racing
- Driving on the wrong side of the road
- Running a stop light or a stop sign
- Driving under the influence
Proving Negligence Per Se
Sometimes at-fault drivers make mistakes that constitute both ordinary negligence and negligence per se. For example, a sleepy driver who runs a red light is guilty of both forms of negligence. Even when negligence per se is clearly a factor in an accident, you must still prove the defendant violated a statute, and that this violation was the proximate cause of the collision.
You need an experienced vehicle accident attorney to help you prove your case and receive the compensation you deserve. To discuss your claim, contact the law offices of Steve M. Lee, P.C., by using the form on this page.