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Negligence per se

September 19, 2009

In most cases it is the plaintiff’s responsibility to prove that the defendant was negligent in order to win a Texas personal injury lawsuit. However, there are some cases where the defendant’s negligence is a matter of law, and the plaintiff does not have to put forth any further evidence to establish the defendant’s negligence.

This situation is known as “negligence per se.” Negligence per se applies in some cases where the defendant committed an unexcused violation of the law. Specifically, the doctrine of negligence per se applies in cases where two conditions are met:

  1. The law which the defendant violated was put in place to prevent the type of harm for which the plaintiff is seeking to recover damages.
  2. The plaintiff is within the class of persons for whom the law was enacted to protect.

For example, say that Joe is driving in his car at a speed that exceeds the limit of 55 mph. If Joe is driving at 75 mph, he has violated this traffic law. Speed limits are put in place to help prevent accidents, which means they are enacted to prevent other drivers from being injured.

If Joe crashes into Mary’s car while he’s speeding, there is a good chance that negligence per se will apply. Reason being, Mary is a driver, so she is within the class of persons the law was enacted to protect.

Not all violations of the law, however, qualify as negligence per se. For instance, suppose Joe was driving the speed limit, but at the time of the accident Joe’s license plate was on the front of his car when the law requires that it be on the back of the car. Joe’s violation of the license plate law is not the cause of the accident or the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. In this case, the doctrine of negligence per se would not apply.

At Fears | Nachawati, our Texas personal injury lawyers know Texas traffic laws inside and out. They will carefully examine the cause of the accident and your injuries to determine whether the highly beneficial doctrine of negligence per se applies to your case.

For free legal assistance and advice on your potential personal injury lawsuit, contact Fears | Nachawati today. You can email us at or call us on our toll-free number at 1.866.705.7584.




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