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3.6-13  Negligence Per Se - Statutory Negligence

Revised to January 1, 2008

Negligence can arise from a violation of a statute that creates a duty by declaring that certain requirements must be followed or that certain acts must not be done.  By enacting such a law, the legislature has determined the appropriate standard of care to which an individual's conduct must conform.  Conduct that violates the requirements of such a statute constitutes negligence.  The plaintiff has alleged that the defendant has violated the following statutory (duty / duties):  <insert allegations of the complaint and text of relevant statutes>.

A violation by the defendant of a duty imposed by one or more of these statutes constitutes negligence.  If you find that the defendant has violated one or more of these statutes then the defendant's conduct is negligent as a matter of law.

Authority

Considine v. Waterbury, 279 Conn. 830, 860-61 n.16 (2006); Staudinger v. Barrett, 208 Conn. 94, 101 (1988); Pickering v. Aspen Dental Management, Inc., 100 Conn. App. 793, 802 (2007).

Notes

An instruction for negligence per se should not be given when the alleged negligent party is a minor under the age of sixteen.  General Statutes § 52-217.

The instruction for negligence per se applies only when the statute alleged is designed to protect persons against injury and the plaintiff has suffered an injury for which the statute was intended to guard against.  The plaintiff must be within the class of persons for whose benefit and protection the statute in question was enacted; the violation of the statute must constitute a breach of duty owed to the plaintiff; and the violation of the statute must be the proximate cause of the injuries claimed.  See Gore v. People's Savings Bank, supra, 235 Conn. 375-76; Berchtold v. Maggi, 191 Conn. 266, 274-75 (1983); Couglin v. Peters, 153 Conn. 99, 101-102 (1965).

This charge should be given in conjunction with the charge on causation.  If the defendant is found to be negligent due to violation of a statutory duty, then the defendant will be liable to the plaintiff if such violation is a substantial factor in causing the claimed injury.  See Gore v. People's Savings Bank, supra, 235 Conn. 376 n.15, citing Busko v. DeFilippo, 162 Conn. 462, 466 (1972).

Negligence per se is applicable to a violation of a valid regulation or ordinance.  See Citerella v. United Illuminating Co., 158 Conn. 600, 608 (1969); Heritage Village Master Assn., Inc., v. Heritage Village Water Co., 30 Conn. App. 693, 705 (1993).  An exception to this general rule applies to OSHA regulations which cannot furnish the basis of a negligence per se instruction due to applicable limiting state and federal statutes.  OSHA regulations can be the basis for an instruction that they are evidence of the standard of care to which the defendant must be held.  A violation of the regulations, while not negligence per se, can be considered evidence of negligence.  Wendland v. Ridgefield Construction Services, Inc., supra, 184 Conn. 178.  See also Staudinger v. Barrett, supra, 208 Conn. 100-03 (a violation of a police pursuit policy which does not have the force of a regulation may still be evidence of negligence).
 


 

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