Negligence vs. Negligence Per Se

Negligence vs. Negligence Per Se

Many personal injury cases in California are based on negligence, including car accidents, slip and fall claims, and wrongful death. You must prove that the other party was negligent to recover compensation for your damages. In some cases, the theory of negligence per se can help prove your case. Our skilled Los Angeles personal injury lawyers use all resources to recover the compensation you deserve after another party causes you harm.

Proving Negligence for a Personal Injury Claim 

Negligence occurs when a party fails to use care to avoid injuring or harming a person. The level of care the person uses is based on the “reasonable person” standard.” 

Jurors 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 jurors 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.

Let’s use a car accident as an example. The legal elements of a negligence claim are:

  • Duty of Care – The party who caused your injury owed you a legal duty of care.
  • Breach of Duty – The party’s actions or omissions created a breach of duty.
  • Causation – The party’s conduct was the direct and proximate cause of your injury.
  • Damages – You sustained damages because of the party’s breach of duty. 

A driver owes a legal duty of care to follow California traffic laws and take reasonable steps to avoid causing a traffic accident. Running a red light or driving under the influence could be considered breaches of duty. A reasonable person would know these actions could result in a car accident.

However, you must go a step further to prove negligence. You must prove that the driver’s conduct “caused” the traffic accident. For example, a drunk driver could be involved in an accident they did not cause. However, if the drunk driver drove in the wrong lane, their actions caused the crash.

Lastly, you must prove that you sustained damages. Damages include physical injuries and economic damages, such as lost wages and medical bills. You can also receive compensation for non-economic damages, which represent your pain and suffering.

How Is Negligence Per Se Used in a Personal Injury Case?

Negligence per se is the rebuttable presumption that a party breached the duty of care and is thereby negligent. It shifts the burden of proof to the defendant to prove they were not negligent.

For negligence per se to apply, the person must have violated a law created to protect people from harm. For example, California’s DUI law protects people from being injured in DUI accidents. Therefore, if a drunk driver causes a crash, they are presumed negligent. 

The injured party would only need to prove that the driver’s actions were the direct and proximate cause of their injuries and they sustained damages. Otherwise, it is the drunk driver’s responsibility to prove they were not negligent as a matter of law. 

Negligence per se can be helpful in cases involving circumstantial evidence. The defendant has the burden of offering evidence that convinces the jury they were not negligent. 

Contact Us for a Free Consultation with Our Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer 

At J&Y Law, we are aggressive trial lawyers who fight for the rights of injury victims and their families. Contact our law office to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with a Los Angeles personal injury attorney. 

About the Author

Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.

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