The concept of “strict liability” is critical in personal injury law. However, it is often misunderstood. Unlike traditional negligence cases, where the injured person must establish someone else’s responsibility for their injuries, strict liability cases are different. In these cases, defendants can be held liable for injuries and other damages regardless of whether they were negligent.
Understanding strict liability and when it applies can help you better prepare for your personal injury case.
What Is Strict Liability?
Strict liability implies absolute responsibility. In strict liability cases, a defendant – the person responsible for injuries or other damages – can be held liable regardless of their intent or level of care taken. Strict liability cases often emerge with activities involving defective products, wild animals, and inherently dangerous activities.
The rationale behind strict liability is straightforward. Since certain activities or circumstances are potentially very hazardous, the law has created special responsibilities for those who engage in them. This ensures safety and allocates who will bear the cost of any resulting injuries or damages.
Examples of Strict Liability in Personal Injury Cases
Strict liability cases can arise in different situations. The most common scenarios involve defective products, wild animals, and inherently dangerous activities. Here is a breakdown of how strict liability may apply in these cases:
1. Product Liability
Manufacturers and sellers of products are generally strictly liable for injuries caused by defective products. Whether the defect lies in design, manufacturing, or inadequate warnings, companies can be held responsible if their product harms a consumer. Manufacturers and sellers may also be responsible for the goods they introduce into the marketplace that impact consumer safety. Product liability lawyers can help you recover when a product causes you harm.
2. Wild Animals
Owners or caretakers of wild animals are often subject to strict liability. This is due to certain animals’ inherently unpredictable and potentially dangerous nature. Wild animals possess behaviors that can risk people and property, regardless of how well they are cared for or trained.
If a wild animal causes injury or damage, the owner can be held liable regardless of their precautions to prevent such an incident.
3. Abnormally Dangerous Activities
Abnormally dangerous activities are those that inherently carry a high risk of causing significant harm, even when all reasonable safety measures are in place. Examples include using explosives, handling toxic chemicals, storing hazardous substances, and operating high-risk industrial equipment. These activities inherently carry a potential risk for catastrophic consequences.
If any harm results from inherently dangerous activities, the party conducting them can be held liable for damages without the injured party proving negligence. A personal injury lawyer can help you recover compensation for injuries caused by abnormally dangerous activities.
Challenges and Considerations in Strict Liability Cases
The concept of strict liability may seem straightforward. However, strict liability cases have a range of legal complexities and nuances. Rather than proving negligence or intent, you must focus on the inherently dangerous activity, product, or animal involved.
Defendants may assert various defenses in strict liability cases, including the following:
- Misuse of a product: Misuse of a product involves situations where you are injured while using a product in a way that the manufacturer did not intend. This can absolve a defendant of liability.
- Assumption of risk: Assumption of risk involves the defendant arguing that you knowingly engaged in a risky activity, thereby accepting the inherent dangers.
- Comparative negligence: Comparative negligence allows the defendant to say that your conduct contributed to your injury. In Texas, you can recover damages if you are not more than 50 percent responsible for your injuries. This is known as “modified comparative negligence.”
To prevail with strict liability, you must establish other key elements in your case.
A personal injury lawyer can help you determine:
- What is a defect in a product?
- What are the characteristics of a dangerous animal?
- What makes an activity abnormally dangerous?
Answers to these questions are far from straightforward. A lawyer can help you analyze the law and facts in your case to determine the viability of bringing a strict liability claim. They can also help you rebut the defenses a defendant may use in your case.
Consult a Personal Injury Lawyer in Dallas, TX
If you or a loved one has been injured in a situation where strict liability may apply, the future may feel uncertain. Consulting with a personal injury lawyer is crucial as you find a path forward. Our Dallas personal injury lawyers can assess your case, guide you through the intricacies of strict liability, and help you secure the compensation you deserve. Contact us to schedule a free consultation with Anderson Injury Lawyers today at (817) 294-1900.