Strict Liability and Personal Injury Cases

Strict Liability and Personal Injury Cases

Personal injury laws relate to injuries that occur due to a wrongful act or negligence on the part of another. The case involves individuals seeking compensation privately as opposed to the government prosecuting the wrongdoer.

Most of the personal injury cases are brought about by deliberate and intentional tort (Latin for harm). However, there are cases that lie on the other end of the tort spectrum in which the act of harm was not carried out deliberately. This situation comes under the strict liability clause.

Here we will discuss the strict liability clause and how it relates to personal injury claim filed in the court.

Strict Liability: What is it?

The term strict liability means that a person or agency is liable for an injury even if the action was not caused intentionally. Also known as an absolute liability, it places the responsibility on the defendant whether the injury was intended or not.

The categories of strict liability include: defective products, abnormally dangerous acts, and owned animals.

  • Injury caused by Defective Products

Strict liability is most commonly attributed to defective products that result in injury. An example such a case is Greenman v. Yuba Power Products where the Supreme Court in California became the first court in the US to apply strict liability to such a case. In strict liability cases related to defective products, the plaintiff has to prove how the use of the product caused injuries instead of whether or not the manufacturer was careless. The case can be filed by the injured persons, product buyers, bystanders, or other persons that are indirectly affected by the defective product.

  • Injury caused by Abnormally Dangerous Acts

Injury due to abnormally dangerous acts also falls under the strict liability clause. If the injury occurred due to a dangerous act by another, regardless of the intent, the injured person can take the other party to court. Remember, as was the case with defective products, negligence does not have to be proved in court. Instead the plaintiff has to prove whether the act was dangerous in itself. To understand the application of strict liability in cases of abnormally dangerous acts, refer to Miller v. Civil Constructors, Inc., which is the case of a truck driver who was injured due to a fall when a stray bullet ricocheted towards him from a nearby quarry that was used for target practice. The case was dismissed because the court determined that the target practice was not an abnormally dangerous act.

  • Injury caused by Animals

Personal injury that is caused by animals owned by an individual or agency is also governed by strict liability laws. In 2009, a Dutch tourist was attacked by a Javelina while touring the grounds of Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson. The animal caused extensive injury to the plaintiff. The case was settled out of court, but it shows how injuries that occur due to animals owned by other parties or present on premises can lead to cases involving strict liability personal injury cases.


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