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What Should I Know About The “Negligence Per Se” Doctrine?

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In the legal world, negligence refers to a person’s failure to use reasonable care, leading to a preventable accident that injures others. The concept of negligence is vital to personal injury claims in which victims seek compensation from injuries sustained during a preventable accident. A victim needs to prove negligence in court in order to win any restitution. However, there is a doctrine called “negligence per se” which allows victims to seek compensation more easily. Want to know more? Our knowledgeable law firm has the answers you’re looking for. Continue reading this blog to find out how one of our New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyers can provide individualized legal counseling.


In the simplest terms, “negligence per se” just means that the defendant (person who caused the accident) broke the law, which directly led to the victim’s injuries. This doctrine makes it much easier for victims of certain personal injury accidents to win compensation. This is because the process for proving negligence per se is much simpler.


In most personal injury cases, negligence is normally proven with the following steps:

  • Duty. The defendant had a duty of reasonable care to prevent harm from others.
  • Breach. The defendant breached their duty by acting a certain way (or failing to act).
  • Causation. The defendant’s actions caused the victim’s injuries.
  • Damages. The victim suffered as a result of the accident and subsequent injuries.

However, when the defendant is guilty of negligence per se, the victim doesn’t need to prove the first two steps. Many laws are in place to protect the general public. So, if the defendant broke a law that led to the accident, they already broke their duty by disobeying the law.

An example of a negligence per se case would be a drunk driving accident. Obviously, it’s illegal to drive while intoxicated in New Jersey. Let’s say a drunk driver crashes into another car, injuring that driver. The negligence per se doctrine applies here because the drunk driver had a duty of reasonable care to drive sober. The jury won’t need to debate whether the defendant did anything wrong because we know they broke DUI laws, but the victim still needs to prove that the defendant’s actions directly led to their injuries.

Have you recently been injured in a preventable accident due to someone else’s negligent behavior? You might want to speak with a dedicated personal injury lawyer who can help you determine your best options going forward. Thankfully, our highly experienced law firm is here to fight for you! Contact Rubenstein, Berliner & Shinrod, LLC today for an initial consultation.

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