Exploring Negligence Per Se in Personal Injury Litigation in Virginia

Find out more about negligence per se and its role in personal injury litigation.
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Injuries and accidents can have a profound effect on your health, well-being, and financial situation. As such, it’s important that those responsible are held accountable. For example, if you are injured and the accident was caused by someone else, you should make a personal injury claim.

In order to receive the money you deserve through the personal injury litigation process, you must first prove that another party’s negligence caused the incident. However, there are many different forms of negligence, including negligence per se.

What is Negligence Per Se?

Negligence per se is a specific type of negligence, which implies that the defendant’s actions have not only harmed the plaintiff but violated a law, too. For example, in the case of a collision, negligence per se applies if the defendant was not obeying speed or traffic laws.

In negligence per se claims, the plaintiff must be part of the “protected class” that the law was intended to protect.

This plays a significant role in personal injury claims, as the plaintiff no longer has to “prove” that the defendant acted negligently – the violation itself acts as suitable evidence. This can strengthen a compensation claim and potentially impact the amount of money the claimant receives.

Virginia Statues and Their Impact

To use negligence per se within your personal injury claim in Virginia, you must reference which specific Virginian statutes have been breached or violated.

For example, in the scenario outlined above, the speeding defendant violated Virginia traffic laws, as, according to chapter 46 of the Virginian Code, “the maximum speed limit shall be 55 miles per hour on interstate highways or other limited access highways with divided roadways.”

Elements of Negligence Per Se Claims

Many different elements make up a negligence per se claim. This includes:

1. A violation of a specific law

In order to make a negligence per se claim, a specific law must have been violated and the law must have been enacted for public safety.

2. The plaintiff must belong to a protected class

In order for a claim to be successful, the plaintiff must be part of the class the law was designed to protect. The plaintiff must also demonstrate the harm they suffered was the type of harm the statute intended to prevent.

For example, in a dog bite case that involved a dog who was not on a leash when local ordinance required it, the person who was bit was in the class of people to be protected from having the dog run at large. Violation of the leash law ordinance would result in liability for the dog owner.

3. Causation

In order for negligence per se to apply, the violation of the law should be proven to be the proximate cause of the accident/incident. This is known as the causal connection.

Punitive Damages and Negligence Per Se

Punitive damages refer to financial compensation that is offered to the plaintiff that exceeds their losses. As a result, those who are awarded punitive damages tend to take home more money than those given more traditional methods of compensation.

While it is rare for punitive damages to be awarded in this scenario, there are some scenarios in which this can be applied. However, plaintiffs must also be able to prove that the defendant acted recklessly (willfully or otherwise).

Navigating Your Case with a Personal Injury Attorney in Richmond, VA

If you are looking into making a personal injury claim and believe that negligence per se will apply to your case, we’re here to help!

At Renfro & Renfro, we have years of experience in helping those who have been injured receive the compensation they deserve. This means that not only will we be able to answer any questions you may have about personal injury litigation, but we’ll also be able to guide you towards the best possible outcome in court.

Navigating your way through a personal injury claim can be both difficult and confusing, especially if you have little experience in the legal system beforehand. However, working with an experienced personal injury attorney in Richmond, VA and the surrounding areas will provide you with the peace of mind and support you crave.

If you’d like to find out more, please do not hesitate to contact us today. We’d be happy to kickstart our journey together with a free case evaluation.


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