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Strict Liability And Personal Injury Cases

Personal injury lawsuits are usually based on negligence, that is, when one person’s negligent actions or failure to act causes another person an injury or property damage.  However, this is not the only basis for a personal injury lawsuit, and an injured person can sue when his or her injuries are the result of intentional actions, or when strict liability applies.

When strict liability applies in a personal injury case, there is no question of the defendant’s negligence, intent or fault.   The defendant can be found liable if the plaintiff can show that the action or inaction causing injury occurred, and that the defendant was responsible.  Generally, strict liability mostly applies to cases involving defective products, dangerous animals, where liability is imposed by statute, or cases involving activities the law describes as ultrahazardous.  For example, if an owner is covered by a dog bite law, then the owner can be found liable for injuries the dog causes to another person regardless of whether or not the owner knew the animal to be dangerous or took steps to keep the dog from biting others.

Strict liability exists as a matter of public policy, essentially to shift the burden of the injury from the injured person to the party who was in control of the object or animal causing the injury.  For example, in a defective product case, the manufacturer has control over a product before it gets to the consumer, controlling the design and manufacture of the product.  By selling the product, the manufacturer is implying that the product is safe for use by the general public.  If this is not the case, the manufacturer, and others, such as distributors, should be liable for any injuries caused by the product.  The plaintiff is expected to prove that the product was unreasonably defective, and that the defect was present when the product left the manufacturer’s control.

Strict liability does not necessarily mean an automatic victory for the plaintiff; rather, it makes the plaintiff’s case shorter by avoiding questions of fault that would have to be answered in a negligence case.  After a plaintiff proves the elements of strict liability in his or her case, the defendant may present defenses to liability, such as assumption of risk or contributory negligence.  If strict liability applies, the main question in the case becomes one of proving how much the plaintiff is seeking in compensation.  However, once again, the defendant may present evidence on why the plaintiff should not receive their full amount of compensation sought.  For example, if the defendant has successfully shown that the plaintiff took some action that contributed to his injuries, the plaintiff’s ultimate recovery may be reduced due to his or her actions.

Contact Us For Legal Assistance

If you have suffered injuries based on either the intentional or negligent acts of another, or from a defective product, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney for a consultation on whether you may be able to receive compensation.  Contact the experienced Jacksonville, Florida and Brunswick, Georgia personal injury attorneys at Gillette Law, P.A. for immediate assistance with your case.

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