Strict Liability: Proof, Typical Cases, And Defenses
In most forms of personal injury claims, the plaintiff must prove the defendant's negligence to prevail. This is not the case with strict liability claims. Below is an overview of various aspects of strict liability.
Strict liability is not an automatic liability. While you don't need to prove the defendant's negligence in strict liability, you still need to prove the following.
Proof of Injury
As with any form of personal injury claim, you must prove actual injury for your strict liability claim. A near miss or a great scare doesn't count — only actual injury counts. Medical records are critical for proving actual injury.
You also need to prove the alleged actions or inactions of the defendant. For example, in case of a dog bite, you must prove that the defendant owned the dog or was responsible for the dog at the time of the attack.
The Connection between the Two
Lastly, you must prove a connection between your injury and the defendant's actions. For example, if you have rabies that you claim is a result of a dog bite, you must prove that it is the defendant's dog that bit you and infected you with rabies.
Strict liability doesn't apply to all cases — it only applies to a few cases. Below are three typical cases subject to strict liability laws.
Some activities are inherently dangerous. Their propensity for danger is high even with adequate precautions. Those who engage in such activities are strictly liable for the damages their actions might cause. For example, anyone who transports explosives may be strictly liable for the injuries the explosives might cause.
Product liability arises if a defective product causes injury to a consumer. An example is if a new drug causes unexpected side effects in patients. Drug manufacturers are strictly liable for such injuries.
Animals are unpredictable and dangerous. The danger or unpredictability is particularly high in wild animals. Thus, those who elect to keep wild animals (such a pet monkeys) are strictly liable for the injuries those animals might cause. Some states extend the strict liability to dogs, especially dangerous dog breeds or dogs with attack histories.
It cannot be stressed enough that strict liability is not the same as an automatic liability. There are still defenses that the defendant can raise to deny your liability. This means you still have your work cut out for you in proving your case to get your compensation, and an experienced injury attorney can help you with that.
For more information, contact a personal injury attorney in your area.