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What is “Negligence Per Se”?


Negligence “per se” arises in situations where a statute (law) or other applicable regulation establishes a standard of care, a defendant breaks the law (thereby violating the standard of care) and injury results. Negligence per se creates a presumption that the defendant’s actions were negligent. However, the defendant can rebut this presumption by proving that (s)he acted as a reasonable person would have acted under the relevant circumstances. (Note that this requires proof that reasonable people in the defendant’s position, who normally want to comply with laws, would also have violated the law.)


The presumption of negligence arises where all of the following elements are met:

1. The defendant violated a law, ordinance or regulation.

2. The plaintiff suffered harm or injury as a result of the defendant’s legal violation.

3. The plaintiff was within the class of people the statute was designed or intended to protect.

4. The plaintiff’s harm or injury was of the type the statute was designed to prevent.

The last two elements are important, and generally require fact-based legal analysis. It’s not enough that the defendant broke the law and someone was hurt. While that is a required element (as is the fact that the injury must have been caused by the violation, rather than some other fact or factor), the plaintiff and his or her injuries must be within the intended scope of the law’s protection.

If you were injured as a result of someone else’s legal violation, contact an experienced attorney promptly for an individual analysis of your potential rights and claims. Do not delay. Certain laws (called “statutes of limitation”) place a limit on the time an injured person has to bring a claim; if you wait too long, you may lose the right to recover altogether.


Disclaimer: THIS ARTICLE IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY, AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE OR CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE AUTHOR OR ROSS LAW AND ANY PERSON. Your rights and experiences may vary. Never use an online article (including this one) to evaluate your legal claims. Speak with an experienced lawyer promptly to obtain a personalized evaluation of your claims, possible damages, and options. You may lose or compromise your rights if you delay in consulting legal counsel. Most legal claims (and defenses) are complicated and fact-dependent. If you believe you have a claim against someone who injured you, a lawyer who represented you in a previous lawsuit, or any other type of legal claim, consult an experienced lawyer immediately for an evaluation of your personal rights and claims.

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