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When it comes to liability on the road, negligence per se is one of the most common civil lawsuits drivers face. The basic premise of negligence per se is that the negligence is presumed because of your conduct. You need to make sure that you understand what goes into a determination of negligence per se so that you can adequately defend yourself. Here are some of the things you must know.
Violation of a Statute
In most states, negligence per se happens when you violate a statute. One of the most common ones is speeding. If you exceed the speed limit and are in an accident, then you may be charged with a negligence action per se. This is only on the civil level. It is not criminal in nature. But that does not keep the state from prosecuting you criminally or the victim from requesting criminal charges as well as additional civil charges.
Shifting of the Burden
As you can see from the sites LegalZoom reviews, the biggest distinction between a regular negligence case and a negligence per se case is that the burden of proof shifts from the plaintiff to the defendant. In a traditional negligence case, the plaintiff has to demonstrate that it is more often than not that you committed the violation that he claims. But in a negligence per se case, you, as the defendant, must prove that it is more likely than not you that did not commit the harm or should not be held responsible for it.
Not a Hopeless Case
A negligence per se case does not mean that you will automatically be found liable. The shifting burden still requires that you prove your case, and it is more likely that you will be found liable than in a traditional negligence case. But it is not a guarantee. You need to be persuasive, and you need to focus your defense on disproving the elements of negligence. You don’t have to disprove them all. You only have to disprove one. In every state, negligence is an elements based offense, meaning that all of the requirements must be satisfied. The elements for negligence are duty, breach, causation and damages. Your individual state may have additional sub elements that you must prove in relationship to the defense, but they will all come back to one of these four. Typically, the breach is the hardest one to break in a negligence per se case. The easiest one to focus on breaking is the causation as this element is always the most attenuated.
One of the most common civil suits that you will come up against as a driver is negligence per se. Negligence per se involves a case where the negligence is presumed and you must defend against it. It occurs when you violate a statute during an accident. The burden shifts onto you to prove that it is more likely than not that you did not commit the offense. However, it is not a hopeless case, and you should still launch as solid a defense as you can.