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Negligence Per Se in a Personal Injury Case

Posted in Personal Injury on March 12, 2021

Most personal injury cases in Texas rely on the plaintiff’s ability to prove someone else caused his or her injuries through an act of carelessness, officially referred to as negligence. Understanding the doctrine of negligence, as well as related doctrines such as negligence per se, can be difficult as the injured party in a lawsuit. You may require assistance from a personal injury lawyer in Dallas.

personal injury cases  and negligence

What Is Standard Negligence?

The legal doctrine of negligence describes a person or party failing to adhere to the accepted duty of care for a situation, resulting in injury or harm to another person. Standard negligence may or may not be intentional. A defendant in Texas could still be liable for a plaintiff’s injuries even if he or she accidentally or unintentionally breached the duty of care.

Standard negligence also does not necessarily describe a broken law. A person can be guilty of negligence without being guilty of a crime. For example, a defendant may be liable for wrongful death but not guilty of homicide for accidentally causing a fatal injury rather than committing a premeditated attack. Negligence per se, however, specifically refers to a defendant’s violation of a law.

What Is Negligence Per Se?

Negligence per se is a concept a plaintiff may be able to use to prove his or her personal injury case in Dallas, Texas if the defendant broke a law. This doctrine argues that a defendant is liable for an underlying accident because he or she violated a law.

If a plaintiff can use the negligence per se doctrine in a personal injury case, he or she does not need to prove the defendant’s breach of the duty of care. Instead, it is enough to prove the defendant broke a law in Texas and that this caused the accident in question.

For example, if a defendant is convicted of driving while intoxicated in Texas, this could allow an injured accident victim to use the negligence per se doctrine to show that exceeding the blood alcohol content limit for drivers makes the defendant automatically liable for the crash. Successfully using this doctrine removes the burden to prove the defendant’s conduct was careless or negligent.

Elements of Negligence Per Se

In Texas, a victim can typically bring a negligence per se case against a defendant as a distinct claim. Otherwise, the victim may need to file a standard negligence cause of action in the civil court, then ask the court to accept the argument of negligence per se during litigation. Either way, it is up to the accident victim to prove negligence per se.

Proving this legal doctrine in a personal injury case in Dallas requires the plaintiff or his or her attorney to establish three main elements:

  1. The defendant broke a law. Proof of this could come in the form of a traffic ticket issued to a driver in a car accident case or a criminal conviction against a defendant.
  2. The purpose of the law that was broken was to prevent the type of injury or accident that ended up harming the plaintiff.
  1. The plaintiff is part of the class of people the law was intended to protect. This class is typically the public at large but may be more specific.

Although a negligence per se argument does not require a plaintiff to prove a breach of the duty of care, these cases can still be complex and difficult to navigate. Understanding whether or not you can lawfully use the negligence per se doctrine for your personal injury lawsuit in Dallas may require an in-depth consultation with an attorney. An attorney can help you with every stage of a lawsuit, including the burden of proof based on the legal doctrine used.