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What is negligence per se?

To prevail in a negligence-based personal injury lawsuit, you must be able to prove each of the elements of a cause of action based on this type of tort. This proof is usually accomplished through a variety of evidentiary methods, including witness testimony as well as physical evidence, but sometimes establishing this proof to the standard of more-likely-than-not can be challenging if the defense has its own evidence and witnesses.

One way to bolster your case of negligence can be to identify a particular type of Florida statutory law that the defendant may have breached and which may have contributed to or caused the accident. The basis of such a finding of legal violation helping to establish negligence is known as "negligence per se".

Negligence per se depends on being able to show the following:

  • The law in question is penal in nature;
  • It must be intended to protect a class of persons; and
  • You must be a member of that protected class.

In a case arising from a car accident, for example, if you can prove that the defendant was speeding or that he disregarded a solid yellow line when passing, and that such a violation at least contributed to the auto accident, then you can also argue that such traffic safety laws were meant to protect all drivers, and that you were in the class of people that the law was designed to protect.

If you can establish the elements of negligence per se, the effect is to create a rebuttable presumption of negligence on the part of the defendant. This does not guarantee that you will win your lawsuit, but it does make establishing a showing of negligence easier to accomplish. Your personal injury attorney can assist you in determining whether you can use negligence per se as a legal argument if you have been involved in an injury-causing car accident with another driver.

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