Five people, all under 25 years old, were killed in a wrong-way Miami-Dade car crash. The driver of the vehicle going the wrong way has been arrested on charges of vehicular homicide. All passengers in the other vehicle were killed on impact, and a pending investigation will reveal whether any substances played a role in the crash.
When plaintiffs file a lawsuit, they often must prove the defendant acted negligently in order to recover damages. However, when a defendant’s negligent act breaks a public safety law, their negligence is established as a matter of law. This is called negligence per se.
How negligence per se helps plaintiffs
In a general negligence action, a plaintiff must prove the defendant had a duty of care to them, they breached that duty and as a result, the plaintiff suffered actual harm.
When a public safety law is involved, plaintiffs no longer have to prove the defendant was negligent. They only need to establish that the defendant broke the applicable law. For instance, drunk driving is against the law. When a driver is found under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol while driving, that breaks a public safety statute, and therefore establishes negligence per se.
The elements of negligence per se are:
- The defendant violated a law aimed at public safety;
- The plaintiff is a part of the people the law was meant to protect;
- The plaintiff suffered an injury that the law was meant to prevent; and
- The plaintiff’s injury was caused by the defendant’s violation of the law.
Driving isn’t the only situation in which negligence per se may apply. Dog bites are another common example: if the owner was violating local leash ordinances at the time, the plaintiff can proceed under a theory of negligence per se.
If you were harmed as a result of someone violating public safety statutes, you may be able to recover compensation. Call the trusted accident lawyers at Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez, Murphy & Walsh in Sarasota, FL today.