Negligence Per Se Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Negligence Per Se, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Negligence Per Se?

It is a legal term, which means that a person who is prudent and has commited an act of negligence thereby harming the peace, law & order, or damage to someone, but is very much believable and need not required to be proved that it was due negligence. High speed driving beyond speed limit is negligence per se as speed limit is a known fact for a driver.

History and Meaning of Negligence Per Se

Negligence per se is a Latin term used in tort law. It arose from the common law principle that when a person violates a statute or regulation, and their actions cause harm, then they have committed negligence per se. In other words, some acts are so inherently harmful that the courts will presume that a breach of duty occurred if the statute regulating the behavior was violated.

For example, if a driver crashes into another vehicle while driving under the influence of alcohol, the driver can be charged with negligence per se because they violated the statute prohibiting drunk driving. Negligence per se saves the plaintiff the trouble of proving that the defendant acted negligently, as the violation of a statute itself provides the evidence needed to prove negligence.

Examples of Negligence Per Se

  1. A retail store fails to place a "wet floor" sign after mopping and a customer slips and falls, breaking their arm. The store can be charged with negligence per se for violating the statute requiring businesses to warn customers of potential hazards.
  2. A doctor fails to inform a patient about the risks of a medical procedure before performing it, and the patient suffers harm. The doctor can be charged with negligence per se for not following the statute requiring doctors to obtain informed consent from patients before performing treatments.
  3. A landlord fails to install smoke detectors in their rented property, and a fire breaks out causing significant damage. The landlord can be charged with negligence per se for violating the statute that requires landlords to install smoke detectors in their properties.

Legal Terms Similar to Negligence Per Se

  1. Strict liability: This is a legal doctrine that holds that a person or organization is liable for harm caused to another person, even if they did not act with intent or negligence.
  2. Res ipsa loquitur: This is a legal doctrine that holds that the facts of a case imply that negligence occurred, even if there is no direct evidence of negligence.
  3. Proximate cause: This is a legal term that refers to the connection between the defendant's actions and the plaintiff's harm. It must be shown that the harm was a direct result of the defendant's actions in order for them to be held liable.