Strict liability is a type of civil liability which does not depend on actual negligence or intent to harm. Under this legal principle, a plaintiff can hold an individual or entity liable for damages or losses without the need to prove intent or carelessness and this doctrine typically applies to circumstances which are inherently dangerous or hazardous.
This is different from other types of civil liability such as intentional torts or negligence where the plaintiff has to generally prove that the defendant was somehow at fault for the damages incurred by the plaintiff.
In strict liability cases, the fault of the defendant is not an issue but it is necessary for the plaintiff to prove that injuries or damages occurred and that they occurred because of the inherently dangerous or hazardous actions of the defendant.
The three main types of strict liability are ownership and possession of animals, abnormally dangerous activities and products liability.
The three categories of animals subject to strict liability are:
While they seem similar, they do have different categories based on the nature of the ownership. Livestock are not expected to be locked in a steel cage, compared to a wild or dangerous animal that will need to be more securely held.
Individuals or entities who engage in abnormally dangerous or ultra-hazardous activities may be held strictly liable for any injuries or damages caused by the activity. A court will typically consider these elements to determine if something is an abnormally dangerous activity:
Some examples of abnormally dangerous activities are:
Another major category of strict liability is based on defective products. In order for someone to be successful in a products liability claim, they must prove that:
Manufacturers, distributors and retailers can all be held strictly liable because of the principle that consumers should not be injured without compensation just because they cannot prove who in the distribution chain was responsible for the defective product. The three main types of defects in products liability cases are:
Strict liability cases might seem fairly cut and dry, as either the defendant is liable or not. More than likely they seem like they would be held liable. But it’s not always that clear.
If you are suing or being sued in a strict liability case, it is important to consult with a local personal injury attorney who can represent you in court if necessary.
Last Modified: 07-12-2018 02:35 AM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
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