Violation of a statute or regulation that establishes a standard of care in a certain situation is considered negligence per se. To establish this type of claim, you must show that such a statute or regulation exists, and it clearly defines what conduct is required, the statute or regulation was intended to prevent the kind of harm that was caused, the person who was injured was in the class of person the statute or regulation was designed to protect and the violation of that statute or regulation was the proximate cause of the injury suffered.
How is negligence per se different from plain negligence?
In plain negligence cases, the standard of care that the defendant was expected to meet is determined by what a reasonable person in that situation would have done. However, in negligence per se cases, the standard of care is clearly established by the statute or regulation that was allegedly violated.
Isn’t negligence also a violation of the law?
Yes. However, the difference is that negligence is typically established using common law principles, which is based on court decisions that are not codified. For example, a person who takes their eyes off of the road and causes an accident is negligent because a reasonable person should know that such an act is inherently dangerous. This is so, even though there is no written law that says that a driver must keep their eyes on the road.
However, if a defendant ran a stop sign and caused an injury, they can be sued on the theory of negligence per se because running the stop sign was a direct violation of state law that requires drivers to stop at posted stop signs.
Are there stiffer penalties for negligence per se?
Technically, no. Yet, most jurors are less sympathetic toward a defendant who drives drunk or runs a stop sign. That behavior is generally seen as being more egregious in nature. In reality, while there are no technical grounds for a jury to award higher damages for negligence per se, that is generally the case because juries feel the need to penalize these egregious acts.
Examples of negligence per se in premises liability cases in Rogers
In cases where someone is injured while on someone else’s property, the standard of care required usually depends on the injured person’s status, as an invitee, licensee or trespasser. However, a negligence per se action can be brought against a landowner for violation of local building codes.
Similar to motor vehicle statutes and regulations, premises have building codes that set out the standards for the safe use of land and buildings. Proving a building ordinance violation that resulted in injury and damages is all that is required to recover against a landowner.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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