per se

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 is a safety statute, (3) the act caused the kind of harm the statute was designed to prevent, and (4) the plaintiff was within the zone of risk. In some jurisdictions, negligence per se creates merely a presumption of negligence.

As a typical example, suppose a contractor violated a building code when constructing a house. The house then collapses and somebody is injured. The violation of the building code establishes negligence per se and the contractor will be found negligent, so long as the contractor's breach of the code was the cause (proximate cause and actual cause) of the injury.

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

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