Negligence Per Se

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What is Negligence Per Se?

Negligence per se is a way to hold people responsible for their dangerous or illegal actions. At first, these things might not hurt anyone, but they will eventually cause an accident. In personal injury cases, it is essential to prove that the defendant was negligent and responsible for your injuries.

But in a court of law, it’s not easy to prove that someone was negligent. Because of this, it’s important to know what “negligence per se” means and what you can do about it.

Negligence Per Se Defined

Under negligence per se, actions that are clearly dangerous or against the law are also considered negligent. Unfortunately, the defendant can build a case to show that the claim of negligence per se is not true. But because there is this level of rebuttable proof, it is also very easy to prove that a defendant was negligent and, therefore, responsible.

Most of the time, to be negligent means to be careless or reckless. To prove this, you must first find a specific set of facts, which can be hard to do in personal injury cases. However, if you can show that the defendant broke a law that caused an accident, it is much easier to show that the defendant was negligent.

What Are Some Examples of Negligence Per Se?

A few examples might help you understand what “negligence per se” means. The most common type is found in a Georgia car accident case. 

Georgia follows the Uniform Rules of the Road. When a driver breaks one of these rules and causes an accident, this is called “negligence per se.”

Most often, people break the law when they:

  • Run through stop signs
  • Fail to yield to pedestrians or other vehicles
  • Speed
  • Fail to signal a turn or lane change
  • Run through or ignore traffic lights
  • Text (or use a phone) while driving

Negligence per se can be used for more than just car accident claims. For example, under Georgia law, a dog is considered dangerous if it bites someone. Therefore, under negligence per se, the owner may have to pay for the damage if a dog bites someone in these circumstances.

Does Proving Negligence Per Se Mean That I Will Win My Case Automatically?

No, not quite. Showing that someone was careless isn’t enough to win your case. Negligence per se creates a “presumption” of negligence, but in some cases, the defendant can show evidence that goes against that presumption. So even though you’ve done most of the work to prove your case, you still need to do a few more things to win in court.

For a defendant to show that negligence per se is not valid, they must show that the law was not broken on purpose and that they used ordinary care. Most of the time, the only time that breaking the law would be a normal act of care is in an emergency. If, for example, another driver was trying to move out of the way of an ambulance, that could be a reason to go through a stop sign.

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