An Overview of Negligence Per Se Arguments That Can Be Used in Texas Car Accident Cases
In this article, we're going to discuss the various negligence per se arguments that can be used in Texas car accident cases. Now, before we get started, it's helpful if you first have an understanding of ordinary negligence allegations work in these cases.
In a nutshell, when you sue someone for injuries sustained in a car accident, you're typically suing them under a theory of negligence. That is to say, you're asking the court to make them pay you because they caused an accident while behaving in an unreasonable manner. They didn't break a written law necessarily, but they did violate the behavior that's expected of a reasonable person. You can read more how claims based on negligence work here: How Negligence Works.
On the contrary, when you sue someone alleging negligence per se (rather than ordinary negligence), you're not accusing them of violating the reasonable person standard, instead, you're basically saying that they are negligent by default because they've violated an actual law that was designed to prevent your injury. For a more detailed analysis of negligence per se, read our How Negligence Per Se Works article. But, suffice it to say, some car accidents are caused by a defendant who commits an act of ordinary negligence while others are caused by a defendant who commits an act of negligence per se. Negligence per se is a more egregious offense since it is a blatant violation of a safety law.
An Example of How Both Negligence and Negligence Per Se Can Be Alleged in The Same Case
To put all this legalese in perspective, let's use a hypothetical but realistic example:
Say the plaintiff and his attorney are pursuing a claim against the defendant for running a stop sign and injuring the plaintiff. They will allege that the defendant was negligent per se by running the stop sign (which is strictly against the law), and also traditionally negligent by failing to keep a proper lookout while driving through the intersection (which violates the reasonable person standard). This gives the plaintiff two bites at the apple. The jury may find that defendant was not negligent per se but still conclude he was indeed negligent, or they may conclude he was both, or even neither.
But including the negligence per se allegation is more than just tossing in another allegation, it's a better allegation. You see, asking a jury to find someone guilty of violating the reasonable person standard leaves a lot of room for interpretation. But when you can allege negligence per se, you're effectively asking the jury, "Does the evidence show that the defendant violated Texas' stop sign laws (or street racing laws, etc.)?" If the jury says yes, then you just won your case. Simplicity: that is the advantage of the negligence per se argument.
The Car-Accident-Specific Negligence Per Se Arguments You Can Use in Texas
Not every violation of the law can be submitted to a jury as a negligence per se allegation. Sometimes, Texas courts will rule that even though someone was injured by someone who broke the law, it should still be submitted to the jury as an ordinary negligence allegation. Naturally, what this means for the plaintiff is that they lose their simple yes-or-no argument against the defendant, and must instead argue that the defendant violated the reasonable person standard, which is a more challenging concept for jurors to comprehend.
Over the years, as numerous accident scenarios have been addressed by the courts, we have amassed an understanding of which offenses can be presented the jury as negligence per se offenses and which cannot. With that in mind, the following are examples that you can submit to the jury as an allegation of negligence per se:
- Running a stop sign
- Running a stoplight
- Negligently entrusting vehicle to unlicensed driver
- Driving on the left side of road
- Street racing
- Blocking a roadway
- Driving under the influence
Put simply, if you've been injured by someone committing one of the above acts, you may have a negligence per se claim in which you can sue for damages.
If you've been injured in a car accident, our Texas attorneys are here to help.
If you have any questions, please feel free to call us to discuss the matter. Our car accident lawyers at Grossman Law Offices are ready when you are: (855) 326-0000. .