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330 N D St, Ste 542, San Bernardino, CA 92401

“Where a negligence action is predicated on defendant’s violation of a statute, ordinance or public entity safety regulation, plaintiffs may be entitled to the benefit of the “negligence per se” doctrine in establishing their prima facie case. This doctrine presumes defendant’s duty and breach (failure to exercise due care); and the only issue left for plaintiff to prove is whether the violation proximately caused the injury or death.

Evidence Code § 669 codifies the “negligence per se” doctrine as a presumption affecting the burden of proof: i.e., defendant’s failure to exercise due care is presumed if: Defendant violated a statute, ordinance or safety regulation of a public entity; The violation legally caused injury or death; The occurrence resulting in the injury or death was of a nature that the statute, ordinance or regulation was designed to prevent; and The victim was among the class of persons for whose protection the statute, ordinance or regulation was adopted.” The burden is on the proponent of the doctrine to demonstrate that all four of the above conditions are met. The first two conditions (defendant’s violation and causation) normally are fact questions for the jury, but may be decided by the court as a matter of law where reasonable minds could not differ. The last two conditions are always legal issues for the trial court.

Negligence per se is not a separate tort giving rise to civil damages liability for a statutory violation; an underlying claim of ordinary negligence must be viable before the Ev.C. § 669 presumption of negligence can arise. “Negligence per se is an evidentiary doctrine, rather than an independent cause of action.”

[California Practice Guide: Personal Injury [certain citations omitted]]


Post Author: lawofficesofjamesrdickinson