Negligence per se is a way to hold people accountable for their dangerous or illegal actions. These actions may not harm someone at first, but over time will lead to an accident. Establishing that a defendant was negligent and thus responsible for your damages is key in personal injury cases.
However, it’s not easy to prove that someone was negligent, at least in a court of law. That makes it vital to know just what exactly negligence per se is and what you can do about it. Find out to get the best chance at obtaining justice in your case.
What is negligence per se?
Under negligence per se, actions that are illegal or clearly dangerous are also considered to be negligent. Unfortunately, it is possible for the defendant to build a case to disprove the allegation of negligence per se. However, the existence of this threshold of rebuttable proof also makes it very easy to establish a defendant’s negligence, and thus culpability.
Negligence generally means that someone was careless or reckless. Proving this requires that you first establish a very specific set of facts, which can be difficult in personal injury cases. If you can show that the defendant violated a law and that violation caused an accident, then it is much easier to prove that the defendant was negligent.
What are some examples of negligence per se?
Perhaps the easiest way to understand negligence per se is to consider a few examples. The most common form is found in a Georgia car accident case. Georgia follows the Uniform Rules of the Road, and when a driver violates those rules and causes an accident, then negligence per se has occurred.
The most common examples of violations include:
- Running through or ignoring traffic lights
- Running through stop signs
- Failing to yield the right of way (to pedestrians or other vehicles)
- Failing to signal a turn or lane change
- Texting (or using a phone) while driving
Negligence per se can extend beyond car accident claims as well. For example, in dog bite cases, a dog is considered vicious under Georgia law if it is not properly restrained when there is a leash law in effect. If a vicious dog bites someone under these circumstances, the dog owner may be held liable for damages under negligence per se.
Does proving negligence per se mean that I will win my case automatically?
Not quite. Negligence per se shifts the burden of proof to the defendant—and off of you. This is very good for your case.
However, establishing negligence per se isn’t enough to win your case. Negligence per se creates a “presumption” of negligence, but the defendant can present evidence that overrides that presumption in some circumstances. Although you have done most of the work to prove your claim, you must still take some additional steps to win in court.
To disprove negligence per se, the defendant would essentially have to show that the violation of the law was not intentional and that they were actually exercising ordinary care. Often, the only circumstance where disobeying the law would be an exercise of ordinary care is in an emergency situation. If, for example, another driver was trying to get out of the way of an ambulance, then that might be grounds for going through a stop sign.
Work with a lawyer can establish negligence per se in your case
You still have to prove the amount and nature of your damages after an accident due to negligence per se. John Foy & Associates can help you gather the information and evidence you need to present the best case possible. Fill out the form to your right or call us at 404-400-4000 to get your FREE consultation today.