In common parlance, negligence per se means negligence in itself.
Under Nevada law, personal injury lawsuits are allowed based upon negligence per se, a legal principle under which an individual who violates a statute or regulation is liable for injuries caused to people the law was meant to protect.
Negligence per se arises in cases where the defendant caused the plaintiff’s injury by violating a statute that was designed to protect a class of persons to which the plaintiff belongs.
In simple terms, the party causing the accident is deemed negligent because they violated a specific law designed to protect the health and welfare of the general public.
A prime example of a law establishing the basis for a negligence per se claim is the statute on driving under the influence of alcohol in Nevada. The law is enacted to protect the welfare of the general public. A person injured in a car accident by an intoxicated driver is considered part of the class of individuals the law prohibiting driving under the influence of alcohol is designed to protect.
The injured party would only need to prove that the driver’s actions were the direct and proximate cause of their injuries and damages. Otherwise, it is the drunk driver’s responsibility to verify they were not negligent as a matter of law.
How Negligence Per Se Differs from Ordinary Negligence
Negligence can be defined as “The Failure to take reasonable care to avoid causing injury or loss to another person.”
Nevada courts decide what a person of ordinary prudence would have done in the same or similar situation. If a party’s conduct fell short of that standard, the court could find that the person was negligent. However, you also need to prove the party’s conduct caused your injury and that you sustained damages.
You have to prove four elements for your claim to be successful. These are:
- The other party (the defendant) owed you (the plaintiff) a duty of care
- The defendant breached this duty
- The defendant’s negligent conduct caused you an injury
- You suffered damages due to your injuries from the defendant’s conduct
The difference between ordinary negligence and negligence per se is that in negligence per se, you do not need to establish a duty of care and a breach of that duty. Instead, showing that an applicable statute was violated would be best.
Under normal negligence rules, the standard of care required is flexible and is decided on a case-by-case basis.
However, using negligence per se, the standard of care is set by statute and isn’t flexible.
Negligence per se shifts the burden of proof to the defendant to prove they were not negligent.
The Elements of Negligence Per Se: Breaking Down the Legal Requirements
If you believe that you have a negligence per se claim, you will need to prove that:
There is a law or statute that exists to protect a class of persons.
It would help if you established that a statute or ordinance exists and that the at-fault party violated it.
You were a member of that class.
You are a member of the class of people the law is intended to protect. If the at-fault driver were operating their vehicle recklessly and hit your vehicle, you would likely be considered among the class of persons the law against reckless driving was intended to protect, namely other motorists.
The defendant violated the law or statute.
The violation can be punished by a criminal penalty, not civil. Violating a regulation that only carries a civil sentence or fine cannot be used to support a claim of negligence per se. Instead, it may be used as evidence in a traditional claim of negligence.
The law is intended to protect the public from the injury you suffered. You must show that the statute or ordinance was enacted to protect people from the injuries you’ve suffered. For example, a law against reckless driving in Nevada is intended to protect other motorists and pedestrians from car accidents.
Violation Of The Law By The Defendant Led To Your Injuries
The defendant’s criminal violation was the direct and proximate cause of your accident, leading to your injuries and damages. The defendant’s violation was unexcused or unjustified.
If the defendant can assert a legal excuse or justification for their behavior, there would likely be no negligence per se.
Violation of the statute constitutes negligence per se, and if it proximately causes or contributes to injury, it will support the recovery of damages.
Proving Negligence Per Se in a Las Vegas Car Accident Case
To prove that a car accident may have been caused by negligence per se, your Las Vegas car accident lawyer will need to present evidence that the at-fault party committed a criminal violation. This can be accomplished by proving that the at-fault party received a criminal citation or was arrested following the accident for the violation.
You will also need to prove that the at-fault party’s criminal violation was your accident’s direct and proximate cause. For example, if you get into an accident with a motorist who was speeding, the fact that they were speeding may be found to be incidental to the accident if it turns out you had run the red light. In that situation, you may be found to have committed negligence per se.
Pacific West Injury Law – We Always Go The Extra Mile to Help Our Clients Recover The Compensation They Need To Get Their Lives Back On Track
Insurance companies have the advantage of expert legal representation, and so should you.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident because of someone else’s negligence in Las Vegas, Henderson, or North Las Vegas, you can claim compensation from the parties at fault and their insurers. Upon investigating your claim, an experienced car accident attorney in Las Vegas might conclude that the negligence doctrine per se applies to your case.
Auto accident claims involving the doctrine of negligence per se can be complicated to build and prove in Nevada courts or to insurance companies. Let the premier Las Vegas car accident lawyers at Pacific West Injury Law get justice for you and your family.
Contact our Las Vegas personal injury law firm for a free consultation on your case.