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What Does Negligence Per Se Mean in an Injury Claim?

statue of lady justice by book shelfThe central question in most personal injury cases is whether the victim’s injury was caused by another party’s negligence. Victims and their attorneys need to prove another party failed to act with reasonable care and this led directly to an injury. This requires strong evidence and detailed knowledge of the law.

However, there are some cases where the legal concept of negligence per se may apply. This concept is like negligence but there are important differences. In some ways, proving negligence per se is less complicated than proving negligence.

Below, the experienced Harrisburg-based personal injury attorneys at Schmidt Kramer explain the concept of negligence per se and how it applies to personal injury cases. If you were injured by another party, our firm may be able to help you to secure compensation.

There are no upfront fees for our services and no fees unless we secure compensation on your behalf. We have been representing injury victims for decades and have obtained millions for their damages.

Defining Negligence

There are four elements of negligence:

Duty of Care

Victims must establish the at-fault party owed them a duty of care. The duty of care depends on the situation. For example, drivers owe a duty of care to obey traffic laws and property owners owe a duty to take reasonable care to keep their property safe for visitors.

Breach of Duty of Care

You must establish the at-fault party failed to uphold a duty of care owed to you. A duty of care is often breached through the actions of the at-fault party. However, there are also situations where the at-fault party failed to act, and this led to an injury.


There must be a causal connection between the breached duty of care and the victim’s injuries. In other words, the breached duty of care led directly to your injuries. Without the breach of duty of care, you would have been unharmed. The at-fault party will likely argue something else caused your injuries.


These are the effects of the injuries suffered, such as medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. You must prove the existence of damages otherwise there is no case. Even though another party may have acted with negligence, there is no case unless it had a financial and/or psychological impact on your life.

Defining Negligence Per Se

The term negligence per se means another party was negligent because they broke a law that was meant to protect the victim and others in the same position. If you can prove another party broke a law meant to protect you, you could say that party was negligent per se.

There are four elements of a negligence per se case:

  • The purpose of the law that was broken was to protect you or others who were in your situation, not the general public
  • The law must clearly apply to the negligent party
  • The party you are suing broke the law in question
  • Breaking the law directly caused you to be injured

This is different from negligence because in a negligence case you must prove negligence occurred. In a negligence per se case, you do not need to prove negligence, only a violation of a law. You then need to link the law to your injury. Essentially, breaking the law meant to protect people in your situation is always negligent.

Examples of Cases Where Negligence Per Se May Apply

There are a variety of cases that may involve negligence per se. For example, negligence per se may apply to a case involving a drunk driving crash. Pennsylvania sets a blood alcohol limit for drivers. Getting arrested for drunk driving could make the driver liable for injuries if the driver caused a crash.

Negligence per se is often applied in cases involving traffic accidents, as most traffic accidents are caused by a violation of traffic laws. For example, a red-light crash case may allow the victim’s attorney to apply negligence per se. Negligence per se may also apply to cases involving speeding drivers.

Your lawyer may also be able to apply negligence per se to your case if it involves a building code violation. If you can link the violation of a building code to your injury, you may not need to prove you were owed a duty of care and this duty was breached. Your lawyer would just need to prove the code was violated.

Call Today to Discuss Your Injury Claim

The licensed attorneys at Schmidt Kramer have been providing personalized representation to our clients for more than three decades. In that time, we have secured more than $100 million on behalf of our clients in a variety of cases.

We take cases on a contingency fee basis. That means the initial consultation is free and there are no fees before we take your cases. There are also no fees while working on your case, and we do not get paid unless you are compensated through a settlement or courtroom verdict.

Schmidt Kramer. Experienced Attorneys. Call (717) 727-2089.