What’s the Difference between Negligence and Negligence Per Se?
Negligence and negligence per se can be difficult legal concepts to understand and prove in court, but they are an important aspect of personal injury law.
Here is what you need to know about the differences between these doctrines.
What is Negligence?
Negligence involves harm that comes from the failure to exercise care. If someone fails to exercise reasonable care and injures another person, they may be liable for the victim’s injuries.
For a defendant to be liable for negligence, there must be:
- A duty of care,
- Breach of the duty,
- An injury, and
- Proof that the breach caused the injury (causation).
For example, a grocery store has a duty of care to its customers to make sure that spills will be dealt with in a timely manner. If the store doesn’t clean up spills or put up any signs warning its customers that there’s a puddle of water in the middle of the floor, it breaches the duty of care. If a customer slips and falls in the puddle, the store might be negligent for the customer’s injuries.
Most negligence laws don’t put a heavy burden on people to exercise a duty of care. Instead, people and businesses are generally expected to act reasonably. In the grocery store example above, it’s unreasonable to expect the store to prevent spills completely or clean up every mere spill moments after it happens. However, it is reasonable to expect grocery store employees to monitor the store for spills and to be prepared to put up signs that alert customers to spilled water.
Proving negligence can be difficult in personal injury cases. It can be hard for an injured person to convince a jury that the defendant’s failure to conform to the duty of care caused their injury. Victims of negligence often need to hire subject matter experts to educate a court on reasonable industry standards to show where a breach of duty of care occurred.
What is Negligence Per Se?
Negligence per se is a specific type of negligence. With negligence per se, the first element – duty of care – comes from a statute. If someone violates the statute, it is assumed they breached their duty of care.
Negligence per se is meant to protect the public. Statutes that establish negligence per se rules include a number of traffic laws, including speed limits and driving under the influence laws. Other laws include building codes or product safety codes.
It’s easier to prove negligence per se than negligence for two reasons. First, the duty of care is laid out in a statute. The speed limit is a set number. Someone who drives faster than the limit isn’t acting carefully. Buildings must be built to a certain standard. A construction company that doesn’t meet that standard isn’t exercising a reasonable amount of care.
Second, if someone violates the statute, they are presumed to have breached their duty of care. They are negligent per se. Therefore, the only issues left in the negligence case will be causation and damages.
The plaintiff will merely need to prove the defendant’s violation of the applicable statute caused their injury and resulted in financial losses.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer at Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers for Help With Your Negligence
Although negligence and negligence per se have similar names and elements, these two legal doctrines have important distinctions that can make a big difference when bringing a case to court.
Working with an experienced personal injury attorney can help you prove your negligence or negligence per se case. Contact Baggett Law to schedule a free consultation.
For more information, please contact the Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra personal injury law firm of Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.
We serve in Duval County, St, Johns County, and its surrounding areas:
Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers – Jacksonville
9471 Baymeadows Rd #105,
Jacksonville, FL 32256
Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers – Ponte Vedra
480 Town Plaza Ave #130,
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32081