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  • Writer's pictureLandon Stinson

What is the negligence per se test?


Annoying Legal Disclaimer

This blog should not be considered legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. I'm writing this short blog to share a very brief explanation of one test for negligence per se in Florida to save other's time in researching the same.


The Test
“negligence per se is a [1] violation of any other statute [besides strict liability statutes] which [2] establishes a duty to take precautions to protect a particular class of persons from [3] a particular injury or type of injury” and “[i]t must also be established by a plaintiff that he [or she] is [4] of the class the statute was intended to protect, that he [or she] [5] suffered injury of the type the statute was designed to prevent, and that [6] the violation of the statute was the proximate cause of his [or her] injury.” See id at 201.

Case Law

deJesus v. Seaboard Coast Line Railroad Co.281 So. 2d 198, 201 (Fla. 1973.) is a personal injury case establishing an important test for negligence per se actions in Florida.


deJesus involved a motor vehicle incident between the plaintiffs’ car and the defendant’s stationary railroad car.


One night the defendant-railroad blocked a highway with its railroad car. The defendant-railroad failed to illuminate their stationary rail car –– making it difficult to for oncoming drivers to see the stationary object blocking the road.


The de Jesus plaintiffs crashed their vehicle into the defendant’s stationary rail car and suffered injuries. See id.




The railroad-defendant in de Jesus broke a Florida statute by failing to illuminate its stationary railroad car –– a statute in place to protect motorists driving at night, like the de Jesus plaintiffs, from car crash injuries. See id.


The de Jesus Court established a six-element test to distinguish from violations of law that are simply “evidence of negligence” and those which are actionable as independent “negligence per se” claims. See id.


The de Jesus test for negligence per se is found on page 201 of the opinion:

“negligence per se is a [1] violation of any other statute [besides strict liability statutes] which [2] establishes a duty to take precautions to protect a particular class of persons from [3] a particular injury or type of injury” and “[i]t must also be established by a plaintiff that he [or she] is [4] of the class the statute was intended to protect, that he [or she] [5] suffered injury of the type the statute was designed to prevent, and that [6] the violation of the statute was the proximate cause of his [or her] injury.” See id at 201.


On page 201 of the de Jesus opinion, the Florida Supreme Court stated, “violations of statutes, other than those imposing a form of strict liability, may be either negligence per se or evidence of negligence.” 281 So. 2d at 201. (emphasis added)

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