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Clearwater Motor Vehicle Accidents and the Negligence Per Se Doctrine

Motor vehicle accidents are among the most common source of accidental injury in Florida and the rest of the United States. Driving a car, truck, motorcycle, or other vehicle is an inherently dangerous activity, and drivers owe each other and the public at large a duty to operate their vehicles in such a way as to not cause an unreasonable risk of injury. Regrettably, drivers do not always conduct themselves with the necessary degree of care, sometimes resulting in serious injuries to others. In fact, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reports[1] that there were 124,847 injury crashes in the state during 2012 alone.

Fortunately for victims, Florida law often entitles people who have been injured by the negligence of others to bring a legal action in order to recover for their losses. To schedule a free case evaluation with one of our Clearwater auto accident attorneys, call our office today at 727-451-6900.

What is negligence per se?

Very broadly speaking, legal negligence occurs when a person fails to conduct himself or herself with the same degree of care that a reasonable person would in the same circumstances. In order to establish that a particular course of conduct was negligent, a plaintiff must often introduce evidence to demonstrate that it fell below the applicable standard of care. The doctrine of negligence per se creates a legal shortcut by allowing the fact that a person violated a statute or ordinance to itself establish that he or she was negligent, relieving the plaintiff of having to introduce further evidence.

Under Florida law, a violation of a penal statute constitutes negligence per se, while a traffic violation can be used as evidence of negligence. While the distinction is subtle, it can have a significant impact on the way a personal injury claim is handled. For example, a person who is involved in an accident with a drunk driver would only need to establish the driver that struck him or her was drunk in order to recover, because the law that prohibits driving under the influence is a penal statute. On the other hand, a person who was hit by a speeder could use the fact that the driver was speeding as evidence of negligence, but it would not be conclusive of negligence.

Type of violations that may lead to injury-causing accidents

There are myriad traffic laws that are designed to keep the flow of traffic moving smoothly and in an organized manner.   When these laws are violated, serious accidents can occur as a result. Some of the kinds of traffic violations that often lead to motor vehicle accidents include the following:

  • Speeding
  • Texting and driving[2]
  • Failure to yield
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol
  • Failure to observe a traffic signal
  • Driving without a license
  • Failure to use wipers when required
  • Driving without headlights when required
  • Driving an unsafe vehicle
  • Improper passing
  • Careless driving
  • Failure to obey a flashing traffic signal
  • Driving on the wrong side of the roadway
  • Driving the wrong way on a one-way street

Of course, there are many other traffic violations that could cause a motor vehicle accident, so people who are involved in accidents should always discuss their case with an experienced attorney that is familiar with Florida traffic laws.

Contact a Clearwater car accident attorney today to schedule a free consultation

Individuals who are injured in car accidents that occur in and around Clearwater, Florida are often entitled to significant financial compensation for their injuries and other losses. The lawyers of the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA have been helping people who have been injured in preventable accidents since 2009 and are dedicated to recovering the maximum amount of compensation for each client we represent. In addition, we ensure that everyone who has been hurt by the negligence of others has access to quality legal representation by taking each personal injury case we accept on a contingent fee basis, meaning that our clients do not pay us any legal fees unless we successfully recover on their behalf. To schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers, please call our office today at 727-451-6900.

Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756


[1] https://firesportal.com/Pages/Public/DHSMVPublishedDocuments/

[2] http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?