Negligence Per Se in Ohio

Certain injury cases involve a streamlined method for proving negligence referred to as “negligence per se.” For example, if you are injured in a bicycle accident in Ohio, your case is going to involve a few specific legal issues that should be considered. Bicycle injury cases are unique because they involve the potential for negligence per se and the violation of traffic laws. Whenever there is an injury caused by another who violated a law in place in causing the injury, negligence per se may be involved.

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Bicyclists, for example, have legal rights to ride their bicycles on the roadways in certain cases but it can be one of the most dangerous for riders who end up getting in a car accident while riding their bike. While this guide is by no means a substitute for consulting a qualified personal injury lawyer in Ohio if you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, our team of attorneys wanted to provide a general overview of some of the key considerations when dealing with a bicycle accident injury lawsuit.

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Bicycle Right of Way on Public Highways in Ohio

While injury lawsuits all typically involve some discussion of the principles of common law negligence, Ohio has a state statute that governs bicycle accidents. This can be found in O.R.C. 4511.44. This statute involves the right of way on public highways in Ohio stating that: 

(A)  The operator of a vehicle, streetcar, or trackless trolley about to enter or cross a highway from any place other than another roadway shall yield the right of way to all traffic approaching on the roadway to be entered or crossed. 

(B)  Except as otherwise provided in this division, whoever violates this section is guilty of a minor misdemeanor. If, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to one predicate motor vehicle or traffic offense, whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. If, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of two or more predicate motor vehicle or traffic offenses, whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the third degree.

This illustrates an important concept under personal injury law in Ohio referred to as “negligence per se.” Safety statutes are those laws designed to protect the safety of those on the roadways.

Negligence Per Se in Ohio

In cases where the tortfeasor has violated a law, negligence per se is a legal concept that relates to using the violation of law to prove some of the elements of negligence. The elements of a negligence lawsuit include: duty, breach of that duty, causation, and damages. If a tortfeasor violates a traffic statute, however, the first two elements of duty and breach are considered proven under “negligence per se” standards. In other words, the injured victim only needs to prove causation and damages as the duty and breach are established per se by the violation of a safety statute designed to protect the victim from this exact type of injury. 

The Supreme Court of Ohio has explained in Chambers v. St. Mary’s School that ​​”if a positive and definite standard of care has been established by legislative enactment whereby a jury may determine whether there has been a violation thereof by finding a single issue of fact, a violation is negligence per se.”

Administrative Rules and Negligence Per Se in Ohio

Unlike legislative enactments such as statutes or Ohio State laws, Ohio administrative regulations do not qualify for negligence per se purposes. The Supreme Court of Ohio, citing Stephens v. Able Rents Co. and adopting the holding of the 8th district court of appeals, has held that “the violation of an administrative rule does not constitute negligence per se; however, such a violation of an administrative rule may be admissible as evidence of negligence.” This illustrates the importance of an experienced injury lawyer if there is the potential for a negligence per se claim as part of your injury case. The lawyer can apply these holdings and help determine whether it may be possible to prove the first two elements of the negligence lawsuit if the violation of an applicable law is established.

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