Legal Definition of Per Se Negligence
Per se negligence is a legal doctrine that establishes a presumption of negligence without the need for further proof when a person or entity violates a specific statute, regulation, or law that is designed to protect the safety and well-being of others. In cases of per se negligence, the violation of the law itself serves as evidence of negligence, making it easier for an injured party to establish a claim for damages in a civil lawsuit.
Key elements and principles of per se negligence include:
- Statutory Violation: Per se negligence requires the violation of a statute, regulation, or law that is applicable to the circumstances of the case. The law violated must be designed to prevent the type of harm that occurred.
- Presumption of Negligence: When a violation of the relevant law is established, the law presumes that the person or entity responsible for the violation was negligent in their actions or omissions.
- Causation: To succeed in a per se negligence claim, the injured party must still establish that the statutory violation was a proximate cause of their injuries or damages.
- Non-Excusable Violation: The presumption of negligence typically applies unless the violator can provide a valid and legally recognized excuse or justification for the violation.
Common examples of per se negligence cases include:
- Speeding Violations: In motor vehicle accidents, a driver’s violation of speed limits established by traffic laws can serve as per se negligence if their speeding was a factor in the accident.
- Product Safety Regulations: Manufacturers or sellers of products that violate safety regulations and cause harm to consumers may be held liable for per se negligence.
- Food Safety Violations: Restaurants or food providers that violate health and safety regulations, resulting in foodborne illnesses or injuries to patrons, can be subject to per se negligence claims.
- Building Code Violations: Property owners or contractors who fail to comply with building codes and regulations, leading to injuries or property damage, may be liable for per se negligence.
The doctrine of per se negligence simplifies the burden of proof for plaintiffs in certain cases by allowing them to rely on the violation of a relevant law as evidence of negligence. However, it does not eliminate the need to demonstrate that the violation caused the harm suffered by the plaintiff.
It’s important to note that the specific laws and regulations that can trigger per se negligence claims vary by jurisdiction, and the doctrine may not apply to all types of legal violations. Additionally, defendants in per se negligence cases may still present defenses or explanations for their actions to challenge the presumption of negligence.
In summary, per se negligence is a legal doctrine that presumes negligence when a person or entity violates a specific statute, regulation, or law designed to protect the safety of others. The violation of the law itself serves as evidence of negligence, simplifying the burden of proof for plaintiffs in certain civil lawsuits.