Car Accident Lawsuits: A Brief Look at Negligence Per Se
If you’ve sustained injuries in a car accident that was caused due to the negligence of another individual (or entity), then Pennsylvania law may give you a right of action against the defendant for damages as compensation for your losses.
Litigating negligence claims — in a car accident scenario or otherwise — can be rather complicated, however. Depending on the circumstances, it may be difficult to prove that the defendant was actually negligent (i.e., violated the applicable standard of care). In Pennsylvania, as in other states, the doctrine of “negligence per se” enables injured plaintiffs to automatically establish negligence and thereby avoid the conflicts associated with such proof.
Let’s take a brief look at the basics.
What is Negligence Per Se?
Negligence per se is presumed negligence associated with the violation of statutory law or some other codified ordinance or rule. In other words, if you can show that the defendant-driver violated some law (and in doing so, caused you to suffer injuries), then you may not have to prove that they acted negligently — the court will presume negligence.
Courts in Pennsylvania have long clarified the requirements necessary for application of negligence per se. Simply put, negligence per se requires the following:
- That the defendant violated a statute or other regulation;
- That the purpose of the statute is (at least in part) to protect the interest of a particular group of individuals, as opposed to the general public;
- That the statute or regulation must apply to the conduct of the defendant; and
- That the defendant’s violation of said statute or regulation must have proximately caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
Now, that’s quite a bit of legalese and though it may seem complicated at first glance, it’s actually very simple. We’ll use an example to clarify.
Suppose that you are injured in a drunk driving accident. Section 3802 of the Pennsylvania Statutes clearly prohibits driving when an individual is intoxicated (or has sufficiently imbibed enough alcohol to be impaired). Going by the elements necessary for negligence per se, you would be able to show that you are a member of the group intended to be protected (other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians on the roadway) and that the defendant violated the statute, causing harm.
Request a Free Consultation With an Experienced Easton Car Accident Lawyer
Here at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC, our attorneys have decades of experience representing the interests of injured plaintiffs in a range of disputes, including those that involve serious car accidents. We have a consistent and extensive record of successfully advocating on behalf of clients through every stage of the dispute process, from early settlement negotiations to trial litigation.
If you or a loved one has suffered harm in an accident that was caused due to the fault of another party (individual or entity), then we encourage you to get in touch with a qualified attorney for professional assistance. Call (215) 348-2088 or request an appointment online to arrange for a free and confidential consultation with an experienced Easton car accident lawyer here at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC.