Well, here’s the thing: negligence per se isn’t actually automatic in Massachusetts…
In many other states it works that way, but here in MA, violation of a regulation or law is only evidence of negligence. It can be quite strong evidence, and very convincing, but at the end of the day, it’s not a done deal.
I didn’t mention this in my explanations of negligence per se for a few reasons:
- Most of my readers don’t live in Massachusetts.
- It’s easier to understand if I don’t get too deep into the particular jurisdiction-specific mechanics of the doctrine.
- The end result is largely the same whether it’s automatic or not.
So, to answer your question: yes, the fact that a cyclist did not have a rear reflector at night (as required by law) would be evidence that they were partially at fault for a crash. In MA, their liability would not be automatically proven, but in other states it would.
Boy, it feels good to get that off my chest.