Understanding Strict Liability in Personal Injury Cases
Liability stems from the idea of legal responsibility. To hold someone liable, you are holding them financially responsible for their negligence or wrongful acts. Usually, liability in a personal injury claim is based on the theory of negligence. This requires you to prove that someone failed to act as a reasonable person in a certain situation and caused your injury.
However, under the theory of strict liability, someone can be held liable for engaging in certain activities that caused harm.
What is Strict Liability?
Strict liability is a legal theory that makes someone responsible for damages their actions have caused, regardless of fault or intent. Strict liability applies in both civil and criminal law.
A traditional example of strict liability for civil claims is when someone uses explosives at a construction site. In criminal cases, statutory rape is a common example where the strict liability standard is used. It does not matter whether the actor knew the victim was underage; the actor is strictly liable for their actions with an underage person.
Types of Situations That Can Lead to Strict Liability
Only specific scenarios can trigger strict liability. In Texas, there are three main scenarios that give rise to a strict liability claim.
You may make a strict liability claim if you are injured due to one of the following scenarios:
- Defective products: If a company makes and sells a defective product, they are strictly liable for the injuries resulting from the product. You will need to show that the defect existed when it left the manufacturer and that you used the product in a way that it was expected to be used.
- Abnormally dangerous activities: If an uncommon activity creates a high risk of foreseeable harm even when everyone exercises reasonable care, then a court will hold someone strictly liable for the damages caused by the activity. For example, if you are working at a site and using explosives, then you can be held strictly liable for anyone that an explosion harms.
- Wild animals: If someone owns a wild animal such as a tiger, then the owner of the animal can be held strictly liable for any injury the animal causes. It does not matter if the owner made reasonable attempts to restrain the wild animal. However, this does not apply to dog bite cases.
Make sure to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney if you are curious whether your case is a strict liability case. Even if your case is not a strict liability case, you may still be eligible to receive monetary compensation through another type of claim like negligence.
What Do You Have to Prove in a Strict Liability Case?
All you have to prove in a strict liability case is that you were injured and that someone else’s action or their product caused your injuries. If you were injured due to a product defect, then you mainly have to prove that you were using the product in a foreseeable way. You can’t, for instance, use a razor blade to brush your teeth and complain that you cut yourself using the razor.
If you are able to make a strict liability claim, then you will not need to prove fault or intent when dealing with the responsible party. Strict liability effectively cuts out these elements, which you typically must prove in a personal injury case.
What Can You Recover in a Strict Liability Case?
Strict liability allows for a wide range of potential monetary damages in a personal injury case.
If you’re injured in a case that triggers strict liability, then you may be able to recover damages for:
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress and loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium (love and companionship with a spouse)
- Property damage
These are just some damages available in a strict liability case. If you are hurt because of a defective product, then the court can also assess punitive damages if warranted. If you have questions about whether your case falls under strict liability, then call us at Stephens Law today for help.
Get Your Legal Questions Answered in a Free Consultation Today.
If you have been hurt in an accident, you probably have many questions about what happens next. If you have questions about strict liability in your personal injury case, then contact our Fort Worth personal injury office by calling us at (817) 420-7000 for a free consultation. You can have your questions answered by an experienced professional at Stephens Law Firm.