Negligence per se

Negligence per se is the legal doctrine whereby an act is considered negligent because it violates a statute (or regulation). In order to prove negligence per se, the plaintiff must show that

  1. the defendant violated the statute,
  2. the statute provides for a criminal penalty (i.e., fines or imprisonment) but not by civil penalties,[1]
  3. the act caused the kind of harm the statute was designed to prevent, and
  4. the plaintiff was a member of the statute's protected class.

In some jurisdictions, negligence per se creates merely a presumption of negligence.

A typical example is one in which a contractor violates a building code when constructing a house. The house then collapses, injuring somebody. The violation of the building code establishes negligence per se and the contractor will be found liable, so long as the contractor's breach of the code was the cause (proximate cause and actual cause) of the injury.

See also

Further reading

  • Restatement (Third) of Torts § 14 (Tentative Draft No. 1, March 28, 2001)
  • Grable & Sons Metal Prods. v. Darue Eng'g & Mfg., 125 S. Ct. 2363, 2370 (2005).



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  • per se negligence — See negligence per se …   Ballentine's law dictionary

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