When a person is injured due to someone else’s negligence, he or she can bring a lawsuit against that individual to recover damages and medical expenses. In Colorado, there are a few standard types of liability and personal injury lawsuits available to victims of negligence and carelessness at the hands of someone else. At Levine Law, we want clients to be aware of the differences between standard negligence vs. negligence per se lawsuits.
Standard Negligence vs. Negligence Per Se
The concept of standard negligence concerns a person’s responsibilities or duties owed to a victim. In order for the plaintiff to successfully charge a person with standard negligence, he or she must demonstrate that the following criteria were met:
- The defendant or negligent person owed the injured party a duty to do something or not do something.
- The duty was violated by the negligent person.
- The plaintiff suffered injuries or damages.
- The injuries were a direct result of the negligent party’s failure to uphold his or her duty.
In contrast, the negligence per se theory focuses on the legal statutes, laws, ordinances or codes that may have been violated in an accident that led to the plaintiff’s injuries. Negligence per se claims is based on the at-fault person’s failure to follow the laws or regulations. The injured party must prove the following:
- The negligent party was in violation of a law, regulation, or statute.
- The statute violated is one that was enacted to prevent the injury that the plaintiff suffered.
- The plaintiff is one of the people intended for protection under the statute violated.
- The negligent party’s violation of the statute proximately caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
If the injured person can prove all four of the criteria for a negligence per se case, the court instructs the jury to rule that the duty was clear on the part of the defendant and that duty was not upheld. The key difference between this and a standard negligence case is that the law in question determines what a reasonable person should do in a similar circumstance. Based on this, the jury ruling would show that the defendant violated the law and thus violated his or her duty of care to the plaintiff.
Clients should be aware of another stipulation for negligence per se lawsuits that were put in place to keep plaintiffs from using them to apply to any case in which a law has been broken. The designation of “negligence per se” cannot be used for every law, but rather is limited to safety statutes like traffic laws, speed limits, building ordinance codes, safety requirements and other laws that have been put in place to prevent injury and keep the populace from harm.
At Levine Law, a Denver personal injury law firm, Jordan Levine represents clients who have been injured as a result of someone else’s failure to pay attention to traffic laws or obey other safety statutes. To discuss whether you can file a negligence per se claim, contact him today.