Hopefully, you will never be injured in an accident. That said, it’s important to understand your legal rights if you ever are.

Sometimes, accidents occur because another party is negligent. For example, you could be involved in a slip and fall accident at the grocery store if an employee mops up a spill but fails to put out a sign letting you know the floor is wet.

You can typically seek compensation for losses like your medical bills after such an accident. You may do so by filing a claim to collect from the negligent party’s insurance. If they don’t have insurance, or if their insurer won’t offer proper compensation, you can file a lawsuit instead.

In either case, you will need to provide evidence showing the liable party was genuinely negligent in a way that caused your accident. In these circumstances, you should know that negligence comes in more than one form. There’s “negligence,” and then there’s “negligence per se.” Understanding the difference between the two will help you more thoroughly understand your case in general.

What Is Negligence?

A person is negligent when they behave in a way that a reasonable and rational person would not behave in a given situation. Because whether a behavior may be considered reasonable is a subjective matter, it helps to seek representation from an attorney when pursuing compensation after an accident.

For example, under premises liability laws, property owners and those responsible for the conditions on a property (such as a business owner who may not technically own the property on which their business is located) have a duty to guard against and eliminate hazards that can cause accidents. If a hazard is impossible to eliminate, they must properly warn all those with a legal right to be on the premises of the existence and location of said hazard.

Consider this example: an item falls to the floor at the supermarket. The owner or manager of the supermarket should have trained their employees to remove items on the floor that customers can overlook and trip over.

The law doesn’t require anyone to be superhuman. An employee may not always be able to spot and remove an item immediately after it’s fallen to the floor. However, they should keep an eye out for such hazards and eliminate them in a reasonably timely manner. The business may be deemed negligent if someone injures themself because they failed to do so.

What Is Negligence Per Se?

Proving negligence per se tends to be easier than proving negligence. Negligence per se applies in instances when a defendant caused an accident while objectively breaking the law. For example, negligence per se may apply in a case involving a car accident caused by a driver who was drunk, speeding, or otherwise already violating the law at the time of an accident.

If such a case goes to court instead of being settled out of court, the plaintiff and their attorneys do not need to prove negligence. The defendant will be considered negligent by default. All they must do is prove that the defendant’s negligence was the cause of their injury and damages.

This isn’t to say that you don’t need to hire a lawyer in circumstances when it appears that negligence per se may apply. Proving you’re eligible for compensation because a negligent party caused your injuries still requires collecting evidence and presenting a strong argument. 

You need professional representation to optimize your chances of recovering compensation after being injured in an accident because someone was negligent. A lawyer can also allow you to focus on your recovery instead of burdening yourself with the process of pursuing compensation.