What is Negligence Per Se?
Negligence is the leading cause of accidents in Texas. Negligence can manifest in a lot of different ways: distracted driving, speeding, or even crossing the road without looking both ways. When you get hurt in a car accident because someone else is negligent, you’ll have to prove it.
When you get hurt because someone was negligent and broke the law, proving your case might be a little bit easier. Why? You might be able to rely on the legal doctrine of negligence per se.
Proving Negligence After a Texas Accident
Negligence has a very specific meaning in Texas. Negligence occurs when a person:
- Owes you a duty of care
- Breaches that duty of care in some way, and
- Causes an injury.
You’ll have to prove each of these things – or elements – when you file a personal injury lawsuit. You’ll have to establish that the defendant owed you a duty of care. Then, once the duty is established, you’ll have to show exactly how they breached it. This means that you’ll have to point out how they failed to use reasonable care and caution to prevent you from getting hurt.
Once you’ve established duty and breach, you’ll have to show that this negligent behavior was a substantial cause of your injury. In other words, if that person hadn’t been negligent, you wouldn’t have been injured.
Negligence Per Se and Your Texas Injury Case
The state of Texas has certain laws that are designed to prevent harm and protect the public. For example, it’s against the law to drink and drive while impaired. Laws designating speed limits exist for several reasons. They help to ensure that drivers are able to maintain control of their vehicles. Speed limits also help to reduce the severity of accidents that do occur. The higher the rate of speed at the time of impact, the worse the likely outcome. Having speed limits in place can help to stop accidents from happening at extremely high rates of speed.
In Texas, a driver can automatically be considered negligent if they break a law that’s intended to protect the public. This presumption of negligence is thanks to the legal doctrine of negligence per se. It can make getting money after an accident a little bit easier.
Here’s what you’ll have to prove when you rely on negligence per se in your personal injury case:
- You’ve suffered an injury
- The defendant broke the law, and
- That law was designed to prevent the type of accident or injury you sustained.
It’s important to note that the law that was broken must carry some sort of penalty. There must be some consequence – jail time, a fine, points on a license, license revocation – for violating the law. The law must also clearly state what type of conduct is prohibited. It must be clear that the defendant’s behavior was in explicit violation of the law.
In other words, you got hurt because the defendant broke a law that was clearly designed to protect you.
Once you’ve made your case and satisfied all of the elements of negligence per se, you’ll have created a presumption of negligence. This presumption is rebuttable. In other words, the defendant will have the opportunity (and burden) of disproving what you’ve argued is true.