Nevada law allows lawsuits based upon "negligence per se,” a legal doctrine under which someone who violates a statute or regulation is liable for injuries caused to people the law was meant to protect.
An example of negligence per se is a car accident in which a plaintiff was injured by a defendant who was driving under the influence in Nevada.1 Because Nevada's drunk driving laws are intended to protect other motorists, if a defendant violates Nevada's DUI laws and thereby injures someone, it constitutes negligence per se.
To help you better understand Nevada's “per se” negligence law, our Las Vegas personal injury lawyers discuss the following, below:
- 1. The elements of Nevada “per se” negligence
- 2. Exceptions to negligence per se in Nevada
- 3. Why is negligence per se important in a Nevada injury case?
To establish a claim for negligence per se in Nevada, four “elements” must be shown:
- There is a law or statute that exists to protect a class of persons;
- The plaintiff was a member of that class;
- The defendant violated the law or statute; and
- The defendant's violation of the law proximately caused the plaintiff's injuries or damage.2
It is not negligence per se if:
- The plaintiff was not in the class of people the statute was meant to protect, or
- The defendant's actions were justified or excusable.
A violation of law is excusable or justifiable when the person who violated the law did what might reasonably be expected of a person of ordinary prudence, acting under similar circumstances, who desired to comply with the law. In other words, complying with the statute would have created a greater harm than violating it.
Example: John injures a pedestrian, Walter, when John drives down a sidewalk in Las Vegas and strikes Walter with his vehicle. As a result of the accident, Walter suffers a spinal injury. Driving on the sidewalk is against the law in Nevada.5. As a result, John would normally be negligent per se.
However, at trial, John introduces evidence that he drove on the sidewalk to keep from hitting a small child who had suddenly darted into the street. The jury determines that John did what a person of ordinary prudence would reasonably be expected to do under the circumstances -- namely, try to avoid hitting the child. As a result, Walter will lose his case unless there is another basis for establishing that John violated a duty of care toward Walter.
The burden of proof is on the person who violated the law to show by a preponderance of the evidence that such violation was excusable or justifiable.3
“Preponderance of the evidence” is a fancy way of saying that, based on the evidence, something is more likely than not.4
In order to prove that a defendant was negligent in a Nevada injury case, it is necessary for the plaintiff to prove both that:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care, and
- The defendant violated the duty of care.
A plaintiff can take care of both of these factors by proving that the defendant violated a law or statute that was meant to protect the plaintiff.
It is simply one way to prove breach of a duty of care in a Nevada negligence case.
Injured in Las Vegas? Call us for help…
If you or someone you know was injured as the result of someone violating a statute in Las Vegas, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation.
One of our experienced Las Vegas injury and accident attorneys will discuss the facts of your case with you and help you determine how best to go about proving that someone else was responsible for your injuries.
To speak to one of our lawyers call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) or complete the form on this page. Let us help you get the compensation you need and the justice you deserve.
- NRS 484C.110.
- Barnes v. Delta Lines, Inc, 99 Nev. 688, 690 (Nev. 1983); Nevada Jury Instructions 4.12.
- NEV. J.I. 4.13.
- NEV. J.I. 3.00.
- NRS 484B.117.