What is Negligence Per Se in California Injury Law?

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California negligence per se refers to a legal principle that presumes someone who has violated a statute – that was designed specifically to protect certain people – to have acted negligently if the violation in question leaves someone in the protected class injured.

Negligence per se arises in relation to California personal injury claims, including car accident claims. Finally, it’s important to recognize that a claim of negligence per se can be rebutted by the party accused of the per se negligence, which means that the defendant in the case can counter the negligence claim.

If you’ve been injured by someone else’s negligence, discuss your concerns with an experienced California personal injury attorney today.

Negligence vs. Negligence Per Se

If you are injured in an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, you’ll need to prove that person or entity’s negligence in order to recover compensation for your losses. The elements of such claims include:

  • The other party owed you a duty of care. For example, every motorist owes everyone else on the road a considerable duty of care that extends to following the rules of the road.
  • The other party breached the duty of care owed, such as when motorists exceed the speed limit or drive drunk.
  • This failure to live up to the duty of care owed was the direct cause of the injury-causing accident in question.
  • The accident caused the victim to experience losses that are covered by the law, such as property damage, medical bills, lost earnings, and pain and suffering.

In a negligence claim, it is your responsibility to prove the other party’s negligence in the matter. In a negligence per se claim, on the other hand, the other party’s negligence is presumed – in relation to the violated statute.

The Elements of Negligence Per Se

The elements of a negligence per se case include:

  • The defendant violated a statute, regulation, or ordinance.
  • The violation in question was the direct cause of the victim’s injuries.
  • The injuries the victim suffered were the kind the statute, regulation, or ordinance intended to prevent.
  • The victim is a member of the class of people that the statute, regulation, or ordinance was meant to protect.

When each of these elements is met, you may have a negligence per se case in which you are not required to prove the other party’s negligence. The statutes, regulations, and ordinances establish the level of care that must be employed, which means this is no longer a matter for the court or jury to determine in the case.

Examples of Negligence Per Se

While there are many nuanced examples to which negligence per se can apply, some examples easily highlight exactly how negligence per se applies.

A speeding motorist hits a pedestrian

Speed limits are set far lower in areas where pedestrians are likely to be present in order to help protect them from grave injuries. As such, when a speeding driver hits a pedestrian, the driver’s failure to adhere to the speed limit causes a person who was intended to be protected by the speed limit the kinds of serious injuries that the speed limit was intended to prevent. This adds up to an example of negligence per se.

A drunk driver injures another motorist

It is against the law to drive drunk, and this law is intended to protect all of us from the kind of serious losses that drunk drivers often cause. This means that when a drunk driver leaves another driver harmed, the fact that they are under the influence is enough to support a claim of negligence per se – the driver violated a statute. As a result, someone else (the protected class) was injured (the kind of damage drunk driving laws are meant to prevent).

Negligence Per Se Can Be Rebutted

There are certain instances when there is a legitimate reason for violating a statute, regulation, or ordinance, and defendants can apply such reasons to rebut the claim of negligence per se against them. Such reasons include:

  • The defendant did not and reasonably could not have known that the compliance in question was required.
  • The defendant was incapacitated to the extent that the violation was reasonable.
  • Even when employing reasonable care, the defendant could not comply with the statute, regulation, or ordinance.
  • The defendant faced an emergency situation that was not the result of their misconduct.
  • Complying with the statute, regulation, or ordinance could have increased the risk to the victim or other people.

The standard of negligence per se is considerably more challenging to refute successfully than general negligence in personal injury claims.

Make the Call to an Experienced California Personal Injury Attorney Today

The practiced California personal injury attorneys at One Law Group focus their practice on helping clients like you recover compensation for the losses they experience as a result of someone else’s negligence, and we have an enviable track record of success.

The outcome of your case is important to your future, so please don’t put off contacting or calling us at 310-923-9420 for more information about how we can help you today.

FAQs About Negligence

Does negligence per se only apply to car accidents?

No, negligence per se can apply to any kind of personal injury case in which the necessary elements are present.

Do I need an attorney to file a negligence per se case?

Negligence per se cases are challenging legal endeavors, and working closely with a personal injury attorney will help to ensure that your rights are well protected throughout the case and will skillfully advocate for your rightful compensation.

How do I know if negligence per se applies in my case?

The best way to determine if you have a negligence per se case is by consulting with a practiced personal injury attorney early in the process. Your attorney will help you build your strongest case by carefully highlighting how each element of negligence per se applies.

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