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Is Breaking the Law an Act of Negligence?

On Behalf of | Oct 29, 2015 | Firm News

Personal injury cases are most always premised on an act of negligence on the part of one person that resulted in an injury to another. Negligence, in a tort case, means that a person or entity had a legal duty to act in a certain way but failed to do so. If another person suffered an injury as a result, the makings of a personal injury lawsuit have been sown.

Personal injury cases often have many details bearing on whether a legal duty existed and whether it was breached. In some cases, however, the question of duty is quite simple. If the injury resulted from the defendant having broken a law, then the question of whether a duty existed is already answered. We all have a duty to follow state and federal laws. Ditto for the duty breach issue. If we break the law, we have breached our duty. These situations are known as negligence per se.

In these cases, the plaintiff must prove the following things:

  • The defendant violated a specific law or statute;
  • The statute was intended to protect a particular set of persons;
  • The plaintiff belongs to that set;
  • The injury is the type that the law is intended to prevent; and
  • The statute was meant to regulate a category of people like the defendant.

Negligence per se can only be applied when there is a violation of a statute. Violation of non-statutory standards such as administrative regulations or professional codes do not count, although they can be cited as evidence of negligence. Also, unintentional violation of a statute in an emergency due to circumstances beyond one’s control does not constitute negligence per se.

If you have been injured by the negligence of another, the lawyers at Tipp & Buley can help. We have over 50 years of experience representing plaintiffs in personal injury cases in Western Montana. To schedule a confidential consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, contact our firm online or call us at 406-389-4215.