In most Florida injury lawsuits, the injured person (plaintiff) needs to show the person or entity they are suing (defendant) violated a duty of care that was owed, resulting in the injuries and financial damages at issue. In some cases, however, the plaintiff can establish the duty of care and the breach of duty using the doctrine of negligence per se. The phrase “per se” in Latin means “in itself” or “by itself.” As a Key West injury lawyer can explain, negligence per se is a legal term that refers to a violation of some statute, law, or regulation enacted to protect individuals in the plaintiff’s same position. Where the doctrine applies, one need only prove the defendant’s actions were the proximate (legal) cause of their injuries.
A recent ruling by Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal dealt with negligence per se in an elevator accident. In the case of Vogel v. Cornerstone Doctors Condominium Association, Inc., the question was whether the defendant property owner acted reasonably with regard to the safety of its elevator. In that case, the Defendant owned a two-story building that houses medical offices. Plaintiff was a patient who went to his doctor to give them his new insurance card. On his way in, he rode the elevator to the second level without issue. Upon departure, he approached the elevator again and found the doors were open. He stepped inside but soon discovered the elevator floor was not properly level, as it was about two feet below the landing. Unfortunately, he did not realize this until after he had taken a step in, and as a result, fell, suffering personal injuries to his neck and back.