What is the Legal Difference Between “Negligence” and “Negligence Per Se?”
Most people are at least vaguely familiar with the concept of “negligence,” that is to say, they understand that if someone acts in a reckless or careless fashion that such a person has committed an act of negligence. This is technically referred to as ordinary negligence.
But personal injury lawsuits may be based on a different of negligence referred to as “negligence per se.” The primary distinction between the two is that an act of ordinary negligence is borne of circumstance and an act of negligence per se is a negligent act that violates a statute or written law.
If you intend to bring a personal injury lawsuit against a defendant for causing you to suffer injuries, it is imperative that you speak with an experienced Dallas personal injury attorney before making any decisions. Negligence per se is a tough standard to prove and only an experienced personal injury lawyer will adequately know how to navigate through such complex subject matter.
Aren’t All Negligent Acts a Violation of the Law?
Yes and no. Negligence is typically established using common law principals, which are laws or standards based on past court decisions; common law principles are not codified. A person who takes their eyes off of the road and causes an accident is committing an act of negligence because a reasonable person should know that such an act is inherently dangerous, even if there is no written law that says that a driver must keep their eyes on the road.
On the contrary, when someone violates a codified, statutory law AND the purpose of that law was to prevent the type of accident that occurred, the defendant is said to have committed an act of negligence per se.
For example: if a defendant ran a stop sign and struck your car causing an injury, you could sue them on a theory of negligence per se since they committed an act of negligence in defiance of Texas law which requires you to stop at stop signs.
When Should You Allege Negligence Per Se Rather Than Ordinary Negligence?
There are many different types of personal injury lawsuits such as products liability, premises liability and medical malpractice. Moreover, each and every one of these types of lawsuits has its own specific elements of proof that must be met in order for you to be able to recover for your losses. If you are unable to meet these requirements then it is likely that your cause of action will fail.
This is why it is imperative that you have a personal injury attorney that knows how to deal with these kinds of causes of action so that your interests are protected and you can recover what is rightfully yours. Our attorneys at Grossman Law Offices in Dallas have been handling person injury lawsuits for over two decades and because of this we have the skills and knowledge that are necessary to guarantee that you are able to recover. Our primary interest is making sure that you get the money that you deserve, and we will work diligently towards that goal for you.
Are There Harsher Penalties for a Defendant When They Commit Negligence Per Se?
Technically no. However, there is an assumption of liability when an act of negligence per se has been committed, which lends itself to a jury viewing the defendant’s act as being egregious in nature. Using the examples above, we can all understand how someone may take their eyes off of the road for a split second. It’s still wrong to act in that manner but it is reasonably forgivable.
However, we are largely unsympathetic to a defendant who drives drunk, runs a stop sign, or deliberately blocks a roadway with their vehicle, all of which serve as examples of negligence per se. In summary, even though there are not technical grounds for a jury to award more damages when the defendant committed an act of negligence per se, the awards in such cases to tend to be higher because it is less likely that fault will be assigned to the plaintiff, and because juries feel the need to penalize such an egregious act. Additionally, it should be pointed out that some statutes specifically allow for harsher penalties, but generally speaking they do not.
Negligent causes of action for your personal injury are very common. However, because of the frequency of this type of litigation there is a tendency for the courts to have some hostility towards plaintiff’s attorneys. This is why you need an attorney to fight your case for you that is well respected in the community for their honesty and veracity. The attorneys at Grossman Law Offices have been representing clients in personal injury lawsuits for decades and would be honored to represent you in your potential cause of action. To discuss the particulars of your lawsuit, contact us 1-855-326-0000.