Defining Strict Liability and How it Can Affect Your Personal Injury Case
The law is full of terminology that can be very overwhelming and confusing. Depending on the nature of your personal injury case, one term you might hear pretty frequently is “strict liability.” So, what exactly is strict liability?
In the simplest terms, strict liability means that a party can be held liable for injuries and other damages, regardless if they were acting negligently or not. In most cases, the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit has to prove that the defendant acted negligently and therefore was at fault for the accident. But with strict liability, the plaintiff has to prove that they were injured and weren’t doing anything wrong, but they don’t necessarily have to prove exactly how the defendant was negligent.
Strict liability does not apply to all types of personal injury lawsuits, but it often does apply to some types of cases, such as dog bite lawsuits (depending on your state’s dog bite laws) and defective product lawsuits. Generally speaking, strict liability typically applies to civil cases, but there are some situations where it can be part of a criminal case. For example, many states apply strict liability to those charged with selling alcohol to someone under the age of 21.
Strict liability laws are intended to encourage people to act more responsibly before anyone gets hurt in the first place. They can also help simplify lawsuits in these types of cases and take some of the burden off injured plaintiffs. In situations like defective product cases, it might be unreasonably difficult and/or expensive for the plaintiff to get the proof they need to prove exactly how the manufacturer was negligent, so strict liability helps make it possible for them to get justice.
In lawsuits over defective product injuries, strict liability can be used against either the manufacturer of the product or the seller of the product. If a person was injured by a product that had not been recalled, strict liability laws would be used against the product’s manufacturer since the store that sold it had no reason to believe the product was unsafe. However, if a person were injured by a dangerous product that had been recalled, but was purchased after the recall because a store failed to remove the product from their shelves, then strict liability could be used against the store.
If your state has strict liability laws about dog bites, as Michigan does, it means the owner of the dog is responsible for the injuries their dog causes even if the dog does not have a prior history of biting people. For strict liability dog bite laws to apply in Michigan, the injured person needs to have lawfully been on the property where the bite took place and needs to have not provoked the dog.
While these are two of the most common types of cases where strict liability applies, they’re not the only types of cases. Strict liability may also applied to employers whose employees injure someone else in the course of their job. It could also be used if injuries occur in more unusual circumstances like if proper precautions are not taken to store things like explosive devices or if proper measures aren’t taken to mitigate potential damage from building demolition.