How You Can Win Your Personal Injury Case through the Doctrine of Negligence Per Se

News Channel 3 in Northeastern North Carolina and Hampton Virginia that a motorcycle rider and his son were injured when a motorcycle struck a bus. North Carolina state police say the motorcycle operator was too drunk to drive.

Negligence per se is a legal doctrine that says a defendant is liable for negligence by virtue of having violated a statute. There are four elements to showing “negligence per se.”

  1. The defendant violated a safety statute
  2. The statute provides a criminal penalty (but not civil penalties)
  3. The wrongful act cause the type of harm the statute was designed to protect
  4. The plaintiff was a member of the class the statute was designed to protect


  • Building code violations. The most common example is when a contractor doesn’t comply with a building code causing the building to collapse and injuring somebody in the building.
  • Drunk driving. A violation of a drunk driving statute may give rise to a negligence per se. Drunk drivers are often found guilty of violating a drunk driving law. The purpose of drunk driving laws is to protect other drivers from the drunk driver’s reckless conduct.
  • Motor vehicle violations. The state motor vehicle laws are also laws that can be used as a basis for a negligence per se case. Some motor vehicle laws designed for safety of other drivers and pedestrians are laws on speeding and laws on the right of way.

There are practical benefits of a negligence per se. Often, the criminal case is tried before the civil case because criminal defendants have a right to a speedy trial. In the criminal case the prosecution can investigate the case with the help of the police. This means the state does a lot of the initial work. The criminal conviction often means the plaintiff just has to show the four conditions are met to win the civil case.

How our firm can help

Anyone who has been in an accident because of the wrongful conduct of another and who has received injuries, needs to have legal help. Contact Virginia and North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer Joe Miller online or 888-694-1671 for more information on how to proceed, how to work with your doctors, and whether you might have a significant recovery coming your way.