Negligence per se is a specific type of negligence that is resolved by the judge as a matter of law, rather than by the jury. The phrase is Latin for “negligence in itself.” We use negligence per se as often as possible since it saves our Texas accident victims time and money, In effect, if the plaintiff can establish that the defendant was negligent per se, the case is over and the plaintiff wins.
Elements of Negligence Per Se
In a case arising out of the Texas Court of Appeals at Dallas, the court had the opportunity to explain what negligence per se is as it pertains to a personal injury suit. The court explained, “Negligence per se is a tort concept whereby a legislatively imposed standard of conduct is adopted by the civil courts as defining the conduct of a reasonably prudent person,” and “[i]n such a case the jury is not asked to judge whether or not the defendant acted as a reasonably prudent person would have acted under the same or similar circumstances” because “the statute itself states what a reasonably prudent person would have done.”
I recently settled a case where a woman was injured when she was hit by an 18-wheeler that was set to cruise control above the speed limit. I sent an investigator out to the tow yard where the 18-wheeler was taken and he downloaded the speed and braking data from the truck’s computer. The defense had no way to argue against our negligence per se claim and decided to make a large settlement offer because they knew they would lose in court.
In plain English, this means that if a defendant violates a law and causes harm (specifically the type of harm that the law was trying to prevent) to a person whom the law was trying to protect, that defendant is negligent per se. The effect of a defendant being held to be negligent per se is the same as though the jury made a regular negligence determination.
Negligence Per Se in Texas Truck Accidents
Specifically in the context of Texas semi-truck accidents, truck drivers have been found to be negligent per se in various circumstances, including running a red light, allowing an unlicensed passenger to operate the vehicle, and driving on the wrong side of the road. There are countless other examples where a trial judge can find that a truck driver was negligent per se.
What if the Truck Driver Was Not Negligent Per Se
If a court determines that a driver was not negligent per se the plaintiff can then pursue damages under a traditional theory of negligence. Therefore, by attempting to prove negligence per se, a Texas personal injury plaintiff does not risk losing an opportunity to recover; he only opens a potential door that makes recovery easier.
Have You Been Involved in a Texas Truck Accident?
If you or a loved one has been involved in a Texas truck accident, you should contact an experienced and dedicated Fort Worth truck accident attorney as soon as possible. Depending on the facts of your case, and what kind of conduct the truck driver was engaging in, they may have been negligent per se. To find out more about negligence per se as well as traditional negligence theories, contact the Law Offices of William K. Berenson. Attorney Berenson is a 33 year veteran of personal injury law and is a Certified Specialist in Personal Injury Trial Law. Click here, or call 817-885-8000 to contact Attorney Berenson today.
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