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Negligence Per Se Not Applied When Jury Must Consider Driversí Behavior Under Circumstances
Description Jury verdict, finding no negligence on driver who ran into rear of other vehicle, upheld on appeal. Trial court did not have to find negligence per se under the state law that requires drivers to maintain safe distance when driving. Jury can consider what is reasonable under circumstances.
Topic Torts
Key Words Negligence Per Se, Statutory Standard
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Johnson ran into the rear end of a van driven by plaintiff Ordonez, who claimed he was driving about 50 mph when struck from behind. Johnson claimed he was driving about 50 mph when Ordonez pulled on to the highway from the right shoulder and was only going about 10 mph when the collision occurred. The jury found no negligence on the part of either driver and the judge entered a take-nothing judgment. Ordonez appealed, claiming that Johnson was negligent per se based on the Texas law that requires drivers to "maintain an assured clear distance between the two vehicles, exercising due regard for the speed of such vehicles...."
Decision Affirmed. "Negligence per se is a tort concept whereby a legislatively-imposed standard of conduct is adopted by the civil courts as defining the conduct of a reasonably prudent person. An unexcused violation of a statute constitutes negligence per se if that statute was designed to prevent injury to the class of persons to which the injured plaintiff belongs." Such a duty is not absolute and requires the trier of fact determine whether the motorist acted as a reasonable person would have under the circumstances at that time, which is what the jury found.
Citation Ordonez v. M.W. McCurdy & Co., 1998 WL 470436 (Slip Copy, Ct. App., Tex.)
984 S.W.2d 264 (Ct. App., Tex., 1998)

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