Defining Negligence Per Se

Negligence has been defined as actions that copy careless and neglectful behavior. Yet, in the eyes of the law not all negligence is the same.

What is negligence per se?

It is a special rule, one that can be applied to a personal injury case.
That rule states that the defendant’s actions could be presumed unreasonable under the circumstances. For that reason, there is no need to compare those same actions with the behavior of someone that had displayed a standard level of care.

Steps that must be completed, in order to prove negligence per se

Show that the defendant violated a stature or regulation
Show that the violation allows for the imposition of a criminal penalty
Show that the defendant’s wrongful act caused harm to the plaintiff
Show that the person harmed was supposed to have been protected by the violated statute or regulation.

Examples of times when the rule of negligence per se does not apply

A Personal Injury Lawyer in Kitchener gives example to help people better understand the concept of negligence per se. A homeowner ignores a regulation regarding the construction of walls on residential property. As a result, the weak wall eventually collapses. It collapses when a trespasser tries to scale it.

The trespasser gets hurt and tries to sue the homeowner. The court refuses to hear the case. The fourth step for proving negligence per se was not satisfied. The trespasser was not someone that was supposed to be protected by the violated regulation. The owner of a jeep gets a notice saying that his vehicle has been recalled, because it has a malfunctioning horn. The owner ignores the notice and does not have the malfunction corrected. Later, a criminal that plans to rob a bank steels the jeep.

During the getaway, the robber tries to avoid getting into an accident. He attempts to honk the horn, but it does not work. The robber sustains a severe injury in the resulting collision.

The injured robber tries to sue the vehicle’s owner. The court does not agree to file the submitted personal injury claim. The claimant/robber has failed to satisfy the final requirement for proof of negligence per se. The robber was not someone that was supposed to be protected by the violated regulation.

In May of 2020, a motorcycle rider with a mask but no helmet lets his bike’s wheel tap the leg of a pedestrian, someone using a crosswalk. Later that same pedestrian comes down with COVID-19. The motorcycle rider is charged, with the sick patient pointing to the absence of a helmet. The court refuses to hear the case that is based on that charge. It explains that the pedestrian was not someone that was supposed to be protected by the law that mandated use of helmets by motorcycle riders.