In personal injury cases, it is common for the plaintiff to argue that he or she suffered harm due to the negligence of another party. While negligence isn’t always cut and try, typically the standard definition refers to a duty of care reasonable or ordinary people would exercise. When an individual fails to behave with that duty of care, they are said to be negligent.

However, it is up to the plaintiff in a case to prove that the defendant was negligent. That isn’t always easy to do. 

In some cases, the plaintiff and his or her attorney, in order to establish that the defendant was negligent, will:

  • Utilize expert testimony that highlights the defendant’s negligence
  • Interview witnesses of an accident to see if they think the person at fault was negligent
  • If the case involves a particular industry or specialty, an individual who understands the subject matter might be brought in to testify

To successfully argue that a defendant was negligent, it might also require a thorough investigation conducted by the plaintiff’s lawyers. Even if negligence is established, the plaintiff and their lawyer still have to prove that the defendant’s negligence was the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.

Ultimately, the responsibility of determining negligence lies with the judge and jury. Because there are so many factors at play and because the burden of proof is so great, proving negligence can be a difficult task.

What is Negligence Per Se?

While negligence per se might sound similar to negligence, it is a different legal theory altogether. With negligence per se, the defendant is presumed to have been negligent because they broke a statute and by doing so injured the plaintiff. 

Examples of negligence per se include:

  • When a person causes a car accident because they were speeding or drove through a red light
  • When a driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit hits another vehicle
  • When a product is not manufactured according to state or federal regulations and causes harm to a consumer
  • When a building is not built to code and someone is injured or suffers harm as a result 

In all of these instances and others like them, the defendant’s negligence is firmly established from the start because they broke a law—something a reasonable or ordinary person wouldn’t do. 

When a plaintiff invokes the doctrine of negligence per se, it creates a “rebuttable presumption of negligence.” This means that it’s presumed the defendant was negligent. However, the defendant has the opportunity to disprove that belief.

Obviously, because negligence is presumed in negligence per se cases, it can be easier for plaintiffs to win. What’s more, is that damages and total compensation recovered tend to be higher with negligence per se cases. Sometimes punitive damages are even on the table.

What You Should Do If You Are Injured Due to Another Party’s Negligence

If you have been injured due to another party’s negligence, or suffered harm because another person or entity broke the law, you should contact a qualified personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Even in negligence per se cases, there are often unexpected developments that are best handled with the help of skilled legal representation.

A seasoned personal injury lawyer will know how to investigate your injuries and the accident that caused them, interview witnesses, and persuasively argue the other party was negligent and caused the harm you have endured. A good lawyer will also know how to maximize your compensation by seeking damages for not only things like medical bills, lost wages, and rehabilitation costs, but, if applicable, for things like loss of enjoyment of life, pain, and suffering.

When you are injured and trying to recover, the last thing you need is the hassle of handling your legal issues on your own. Entrust your case to the hands of a competent and experienced lawyer who will advocate on your behalf and make sure you get the money you deserve.