Many people are unaware that local governments often have ordinances that can form the basis of a negligence per se case – ordinances that may create a responsibility greater than that imposed by state statues or the common law.
Consider this ordinance from Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee:
- It is unlawful for any person to drive any vehicle upon the streets of the metropolitan government or upon any private road or driveway or parking area in a wilful and wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. Any person who drives any vehicle at a speed of fifteen or more miles per hour than the posted speed limit upon any streets of metropolitan government or upon any private road or driveway or parking area in any residence district shall be presumed to be driving in a wilful and wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property and the burden of proof shall be upon the driver to establish that they were not driving with such disregard.
Code, 12.68.180 Reckless driving(emphasis added).
This ordinance creates a cause of action for punitive damages as a matter of law if you can demonstrate that the defendant was exceeding the speed limit by fifteen or more miles per hour and that the excessive speed caused or contributed to cause the wreck.
For Tennessee case law on the negligence per se doctrine, click on the link.