When a court hearing a negligence action is confronted with evidence of violation of a criminal statute, the court often fashions an awkward amalgam of legislative intent and common law concepts in determining such matters as the applicability of the statute to the action before the court and, finding such applicability, factual cause and effect, proximate cause, and contributory negligence. By resolving legislative intent judicially and reserving to the jury only those factfinding functions consonant with the legislative intent, the court can eliminate much of this awkwardness. By asking and intelligently answering three question - (1) Was the victim within the class of persons intended to be protected by the statute? (2) Was the peril that occasioned the victim's injury one from which the statute was intended to protect? and (3) Was there a factual cause and effect relationship between the statutory violation and the victim's injury? - the court is likely to determine the applicability of the statute to the action before the court and the legal consequences of such applicability in a manner entirely consistent with the legislative intent underlying the statute.
David E. Seidelson,
The Appropriate Judicial Response to Evidence of the Violation of a Criminal Statute in a Negligence Action,
Duq. L. Rev.
Available at: https://dsc.duq.edu/dlr/vol30/iss1/3