Using Negligence Per Se To Claim Injury Damages From A Landlord

As a tenant, you can use ordinary negligence laws to hold your landlord responsible for your injuries if you can prove that the landlord owed you a duty of care, breached the duty, and the breach caused your injury. In typical landlord-caused injuries, it means that you have to prove that the landlord knew a dangerous condition existed, didn't fix the danger, and it caused your injury.

The legal principle of negligence per se, however, allows you to pursue your claims without proving that your landlord knew or should have known about the dangerous condition. Continue reading for a better understanding of negligence per se.

What it Means

Negligence per se is a legal term for the negligence attributed to the violation of a law enacted for the public's protection. A party who has violated such a law automatically becomes responsible for their victim's damages; the victims don't have to prove the normal elements of negligence as described in the introduction.

Consider a case where a jurisdiction requires landlords to install smoke detectors on their premises. If your landlord fails to make the installation, and you are injured in a fire outbreak, then you only need to prove that the landlord violated the law (installing smoke detectors), which was meant to protect the public, and the violation caused you injuries. You don't need to prove that the landlord should have installed the smoke detector to keep you safe and that their failure to do so caused your fire injuries.

The Rationale

Negligence per se laws are based on the premise violating laws enacted to prevent the public is itself an act of negligence. This is because the government only enacts such laws after careful research onto their necessity. For example, if certain stair widths are deemed dangerous, the government may enact a law requiring landlords to construct stairs of specific widths. 

Therefore, if a landlord doesn't adhere to the stair width code, they automatically become responsible for the injuries occasioned by the improper stair design. That means that tenants injured by the stairs don't need to prove that the stairs should have been constructed in a specific manner to prevent injuries.

As you can see, proving negligence per se is different from proving ordinary negligence. Instigating an injury lawsuit under the wrong legal principle may only complicate your lawsuit. Therefore, if you suspect that your landlord was responsible for your injuries, consult an attorney to help you craft a legally-sound claim or lawsuit. You can also visit websites like