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What Does Negligence Per Se Mean In a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Posted on in Personal Injury

pittsburgh personal Injury lawyerThe ability to prove negligence is one of the most critical factors needed to win compensation in a personal injury lawsuit. It must be proven that the at-fault person had a particular duty of care to you and that they breached that duty. In other words, you have to prove that the party you want to sue acted negligently in some way and that you suffered substantial injuries as a direct result of that negligence. 

Examples of Negligence or Breach of Duty of Care

Car accidents are one of the most common bases for a personal injury lawsuit. Drivers have a duty of care to other people on the street to drive with reasonable care and obey traffic laws. If a pedestrian lawfully crosses a street on a green light in a designated crosswalk and a driver on the cross street runs a red light and strikes the pedestrian, the driver would be considered at fault. 

Similarly, a business owner has a duty of care to their customers to maintain their facilities in a reasonably safe condition. If a customer suffered a severe head injury because an improperly-secured shelf fell, the store owner would likely be held liable for the customer’s injuries because they had a duty of care to make sure that their premises were free of dangerous hazards.

Examples Where There Is No Negligence or Breach of Duty of Care

As you can imagine, it is sometimes difficult or impossible to prove that the other party acted negligently and that their negligence was the reason you were injured. 

For example, suppose you were standing in front of the dairy case at the supermarket, and a customer next to you dropped a glass bottle of milk on the floor right in front of you, and you slipped and fell. The store owner did not have enough time to react to the spill and clean it up. In this instance, your fall is the result of an unfortunate series of events, but it was not due to negligence on the part of the store owner. Therefore, the store owner will not be liable for your injuries. 

Similarly, if you ignore the hand railings in a public place and you fall a set of stairs that is reasonably well lit, and in good condition, your fall is most likely your fault and cannot reasonably be blamed on the facility owner.

The Rule of Negligence Per Se

One of the easiest ways to prove that another party is at fault for your injuries is the doctrine of negligence per se. If the party you want to sue violated a law that was designed to protect people like yourself from harm, the defendant is automatically deemed negligent merely because they violated that law. The only condition is that the violation of the law must be the direct cause of the accident.

For example, suppose you drive down a street and pass through an intersection. A drunk driver then hits your car in the intersection, and you suffer severe injuries. If the police charge that drunk driver with driving under the influence, you have a strong case for negligence per se. This situation meets all three of the requirements for negligence per se:

  • The drunk driver violated the DUI law.
  • Their intoxication was the main reason for the collision. If they had not been impaired by alcohol, they would have been able to avoid the collision. 
  • The DUI laws were designed to prevent collisions and injuries.

Contact a Pittsburgh Personal Injury Lawyer

If you have been injured as the result of someone else’s negligence, particularly if the at-fault party broke a law that led to your injuries, an experienced Allegheny county personal injury lawyer can help you file a claim for compensation. Contact Colianni & Colianni, LLC at 412-943-0007 for free consultation. 

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