Negligence Per Se

Negligence per se is a legal doctrine that establishes a conclusive presumption of negligence when a person violates a statute, regulation, or ordinance that was enacted to protect against a certain type of harm. It simplifies the burden of proof by treating the violation of the law as conclusive evidence of negligence, without requiring further inquiry into the specific circumstances or the reasonableness of the defendant's actions. To establish negligence per se, the following elements must generally be met:

Applicable statute: The defendant's conduct must involve a violation of a specific statute, regulation, or ordinance. The law must be designed to protect a particular class of persons or prevent a specific type of harm.

Protected class: The plaintiff must be a member of the class of individuals that the law intended to protect. The purpose of the law must be to safeguard individuals like the plaintiff from the type of harm they suffered.

Violation of the law: The defendant's actions must constitute a clear and unambiguous violation of the statute. It must be evident that the defendant failed to comply with the requirements or obligations set forth in the law.

Causation: The violation of the law must have been a proximate cause of the plaintiff's injuries or damages. In other words, the harm suffered by the plaintiff must have been a foreseeable consequence of the defendant's violation.

The doctrine of negligence per se is based on the notion that when a person violates a safety statute or regulation, it is an indication of a failure to exercise reasonable care and that harm is likely to occur. By establishing negligence per se, the plaintiff does not need to prove the traditional elements of negligence, such as duty, breach, and causation, as these are already presumed based on the violation of the law.

While negligence per se simplifies the burden of proof for the plaintiff, the defendant still has the opportunity to present evidence to challenge the applicability of the doctrine. They can argue that the statute does not apply, that they had a valid excuse for the violation, or that the violation did not cause the plaintiff's injuries.

Negligence per se provides a legal shortcut in cases where a defendant's violation of a statute or regulation directly results in harm to the plaintiff. It allows for a conclusive presumption of negligence based on the violation itself, streamlining the process of proving negligence and facilitating the plaintiff's ability to seek compensation for his injuries.
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