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What is “Negligence Per Se” in California Personal Injury Cases?

“Negligence per se” involves a violation of a statute, ordinance or regulation that results in an accident and causes injuries and damages to a claimant. It typically involves motor vehicle accidents, but it could also be shown in other cases like when a handrail isn’t in a stairway.

When negligence per se is established, a rebuttable presumption of negligence arises pursuant to the California Evidence Code section 669 if the following conditions are met:

  • A statute, ordinance or regulation was violated.
  • The violation was the proximate cause of the claimant’s injuries.
  • The injuries suffered by the claimant were of the type that the statute, ordinance or regulation was intended to prevent.
  • The claimant was within the class of people that the statute, ordinance or regulation was intended to protect.

If you or a loved one have suffered an injury due to negligence per se, contact us today for a free consultation and we will explain your rights to you.

The Standard of Care

A duty and breach that duty are pivotal elements in any negligence case. A failure to prove either of those two elements will cause an entire negligence case to fall. They also operate to define the standard of care in a case. That standard of care would be what an ordinary and reasonably prudent person would do under the same or similar circumstances. If a claimant can prove a defendant violated a statute, ordinance or regulation, the question of whether there was a breach of duty might be taken out of a jury’s hands because the standard of care has already been determined by the presumption that has arisen.

Negligence Per Se is a Rebuttable Presumption Though

A valid reason why a defendant violated a controlling statute might exist. Maybe an emergency existed that wasn’t caused by the defendant’s own act or failure to act that the law excuses. As per section 669(b)(1), the presumption can be rebutted if there is sufficient proof that the defendant did what might reasonably be done by a person of ordinary prudence, acting under similar circumstances, who desired to comply with the law or (b), the person was a child and exercised the degree of care used by children of the same maturity, intelligence and capacity under similar circumstances. Note that section 6689(b)(1) doesn’t permit a rebuttal if the child was engaged in an activity ordinarily engaged in by adults who possess adult qualifications. You can see how judges instruct juries on negligence per se issues with CACI 418.

California Negligence Per Se in Personal Injury Accident Lawyer

Remember that negligence per se isn’t limited to motor vehicle accidents. It can be used in any type of negligence action when there is a controlling statute, ordinance or regulation. After being seriously injured in any accident that was caused by somebody else anywhere in California, contact us at Maison Law right away for a confidential no-cost consultation and case evaluation. Our California personal injury lawyer is going to listen to you carefully, answer your questions and advise you on your rights and how to proceed.

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