Explaining Negligence Per Se

Understood by lawyers and legal professionals, negligence per se can be confusing to many other Floridians. In a nutshell, negligence per se serves as a way to prove that someone was negligent because of how they acted. But what is it exactly? Does it apply in my case? And how do I prove it? All of these question are important to victims of negligence because it can have a big impact on a case.

Negligence per se is a fancy way of saying that someone broke a law or rule, and that breaking the law or rule is evidence of negligence. This may only apply in certain circumstances, however, and it is important to understand negligence per se and how it may be involved in your case.

Breaking Down Negligence Per Se

Negligence per se has certain requirements. First, there must have been an accident. In a typical negligence case it would be the job of the plaintiff to show four things under that scenario:

  1. Duty - a duty to act reasonably;

  2. Breach - the duty was breached by how the defendant acted;

  3. Causation - the breach of duty caused harm; and

  4. Harm - in the end the victim was harmed.

In a negligence per se type situation, the plaintiff’s task of proving those four elements is simplified. In those situations, the defendant broke a law, and because he broke the law it is proof that he was negligent. So as long as the plaintiff can show that he broke the law, the case is easier to prove.

Over forty years ago, the Florida Supreme Court explained when negligence per se applies to a case and when it does not. Generally speaking, there are two different scenarios and two different applications.

  • The first application involves criminal laws. The Supreme Court stated that if a person violates a criminal law that was designed to keep others safe, and injury to someone else results, then the proof is established that the person was negligent, and the plaintiff’s case is much easier to win.

  • The second application involves any other kind of law. If a person breaks any other kind of law that was designed for the public’s safety, the fact they broke the law can be used as evidence that they were negligent.

The law has not changed much over the last 40 years. Now there are jury instructions that a trial judge can use to charge the jury on whether the defendant is negligent per se.

Panama City Accident and Injury Attorney Here for You

No matter the negligence involved, The Pittman Firm is here to fight on behalf of victims. Wes Pittman has dedicated his practice to serving the needs of the wrongfully injured, and looks forward to doing the same for you. Contact us so we can evaluate your case.

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