What Are the Elements of Negligence Per Se in Injury Law?

Posted on: 11 September 2020


Some types of injury cases overlap with what are functionally criminal cases. When this overlap occurs but doesn't involve malice, the actions of the defendant may be construed as negligence per se. Notably, negligence per se typically makes it easier for a personal injury attorney to establish that a defendant owed a duty of care to not let others be harmed.

You can hire a personal injury lawyer to help you file an insurance claim or a lawsuit against the defendant under civil law. Take a look at how this might apply to what happened to you.

1. Violating a Public Safety Statute

There are a lot of criminal statutes, but negligence per se only arises from incidents covered by public safety rules. For example, a driver who hits a person legally crossing a street at a crosswalk is liable for any resulting injuries. Similar issues can arise from animal bite cases involving domesticated animals that are normally kept as pets. Notably, a case involving an exotic animal might be easier to pursue under the doctrine of strict liability because the law presumes liability for all injuries caused by animals reasonable people don't normally keep.

Injuries from some violent actions may fall under this heading, too. Suppose a restaurant customer threw a glass on the floor because they were angry about the quality of the service. If a piece of glass injured someone else, the defendant might be found liable. However, clients can pursue compensation for many violent actions based on the simpler concept of malice.

2. Provable Medical Harm

If someone's unthinkable stupidity left you unscathed, you don't have a case. A personal injury attorney will want medical evidence that a client suffered significant harm. Consider the previous example of a piece of glass that hit someone. If the glass just nicked their skin and the injury could be treated with a band-aid, it's not compensable. On the other hand, the injury is potentially compensable if the glass was lodged in the victim's eye.

3. The Criminal Statutes Was Supposed to Protect the Victim

Look at statutes that require drivers to stop for pedestrians legally crossing at crosswalks. Such laws are specifically intended to prevent pedestrians from being hurt or killed. In a related civil case, a court would likely deem negligence per se applicable. The violation also has to be the proximate cause of the injury. If you dove to get out of the way of the car, for example, the driver's actions are the proximate cause. Without a vehicle heading toward you, you wouldn't do anything so drastic.