Strict Liability Tort
What Is a Strict Liability Tort?
Have you or a loved one sustained a serious or life-altering injury? Talk to a local personal injury attorney who can help you better understand your legal options. Call now or complete the form below to protect your interests. Continue reading for more information about strict liability torts.
A tort is a wrongful act or infringement that gives rise to civil liability. Assault, libel, negligence and nuisances are common torts. With most torts, a plaintiff must prove someone intentionally, recklessly or negligently caused his or her damages.
That is not the case with a strict liability tort, however.
Strict liability torts hold individuals legally responsible for damages, regardless of whether they acted negligently, willfully, recklessly or intentionally. That is, simply by engaging in certain activities, an individual may assume responsibility for the injuries or other damages his or her actions cause.
Furthermore, even if a person takes steps to lessen the danger, he or she remains legally responsible for damages that come from a strict liability tort.
Examples of Strict Liability Torts
For a matter to constitute a strict liability tort, it must be inherently dangerous and require a high degree of care from the defendant. While a particular jurisdiction may recognize other types of strict liability torts, the following are common ones:
- Owning, housing or otherwise keeping wild animals
- Engaging in abnormally dangerous activities
- Manufacturing or selling a defective product
Keeping Wild Animals
Wild animals, those that are not regularly domesticated, are often unpredictable and aggressive toward humans. Meanwhile, many of these creatures have teeth, claws and other attributes that make them dangerous.
When a person decides to own, house or otherwise keep these types of animals, he or she accepts the high risk of doing so. If a snake, lion, tiger or any other harbored wild animal attacks someone and causes an injury, the animal’s keeper has absolute responsibility.
This is true even if the keeper has a permit or other legal permission to house the animal.
Dogs traditionally do not fall within the scope of a strict liability tort, at least initially. If a dog injures someone, the victim usually must prove the owner acted negligently or willfully. Nevertheless, if there is a history of aggressive behavior from the dog, strict liability may apply.
Engaging in Abnormally Dangerous Activities
Some activities are so hazardous that the person engaging in them has strict liability for injuries and other damages.
For an abnormally dangerous activity to constitute a strict liability tort, each of the following must be true:
- The activity poses an inherent risk to another person or someone else’s property.
- The exercise of utmost care does not eliminate this risk.
- The activity is not common.
Some activities are dangerous, but they are so common as to not create strict liability. For example, many individuals drive cars, which can be inherently dangerous. Because so many individuals are drivers, though, a car-related incident likely does not lead to strict liability.
Manufacturing or selling a defective product
Sometimes, the manufacturers and sellers of defective products have strict liability for the injuries they cause.
Manufacturers of goods typically have strict liability when a damaged or defective product causes someone to sustain an injury. Strict liability would apply in these situations, even if the manufacturer of the item did not act negligently. Nevertheless, if a person’s injury from a defective product was due to something that happened in the supply chain, the manufacturer or seller may not have strict liability.
Similarly, with most products, there is some type of warranty. This warranty may be express, such as a replacement guarantee or implied, like suitability for a particular purpose. If the product does not live up to the warranty, and someone sustains an injury, the manufacturer or seller may have strict liability.
The Process of Proving Strict Liability
Regardless of how strict liability may apply, a plaintiff has the burden of proving the elements of the strict liability tort. There are four of them:
- The plaintiff has sustained an injury.
- The defendant’s actions caused the plaintiff’s injury.
- The defendant’s activity was inherently dangerous.
- The defendant had control over the dangerous activity or process.
It is important to note that the plaintiff does not have the burden of showing the defendant behaved negligently. Simply by engaging in a dangerous activity or making a dangerous product, a defendant may have legal responsibility for the injuries a plaintiff suffers.
Steps To Take After Sustaining an Injury
If you or someone you love has sustained an injury, you likely must act quickly to protect your legal interests. After all, there are limited time frames, known as statutes of limitations, for bringing a legal cause of action.
To improve your odds of receiving fair compensation for your injuries and other damages, you may want to take the following steps:
- Contact an experienced strict liability tort lawyer.
- Learn about your state’s strict liability laws.
- Gather documentation about your injury.
- Explore settlement and litigation options.
Work With an Experienced Local Lawyer
Even though you do not have to prove negligence or wrongful actions as part of a strict liability tort claim, you must realize these claims are often complex. An experienced attorney can help you understand your legal options.
Your attorney can also help you build a case, complete with relevant documentation and expert witness testimony. If you cannot reach a settlement with whoever is responsible for your injuries, a good lawyer can also take the matter to court. This requires complying with litigation rules, local customs and other formalities.
If you have suffered an injury, you must devote your attention to your recovery process. By leaving your legal case to a lawyer, you can focus on your overall health. Still, you want to be sure you receive adequate compensation for your injuries.
Get immediate help and put your life back on track by working with an experienced local lawyer for your strict liability tort case. Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!