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Strict Liability

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Strict Liability

Strict LiabilityMost personal injury cases are based on negligence. However, some cases may involve strict liability.

Strict liability is the legal theory that a party is liable for damages even though the party was not negligent. 

What Is the Difference Between Strict Liability and Negligence?

What Is the Difference Between Strict Liability and Negligence?Both legal theories hold a party financially responsible for injuries and damages sustained by another person. Negligence claims require you to prove that the defendant owed you a duty of care and breached that duty of care. The breach of duty must have been the direct and proximate cause of your injuries and damages. 

However, strict liability can hold a party liable for damages even if they took reasonable precautions to prevent injury or harm to another person. You do not need to prove that the party’s conduct was negligent or that they intended to cause you harm to recover compensation for damages in a strict liability claim. 

In New York, examples of strict liability cases include:

Dog Bites and Animal Attacks

Some states hold animal owners strictly liable for dog bites. However, New York is a “mixed” strict liability state for dog bites. The law holds a dog owner strictly liable for medical bills if a “dangerous dog” bites someone.

A “dangerous dog” is defined as a dog that has killed, injured, or attacked a person, pet, or farm animal. The dog may also be classified as “dangerous” based on its behavior. You have the burden of proving that the dog owner was negligent to recover compensation for damages other than your medical bills.

However, the state holds owners of wild animals strictly liable for any damages caused by the animals. Even though the owner may take reasonable measures to prevent harm to others, the law holds the owner strictly liable. There are exceptions for educational institutions and government agencies with wild animals used for education, study, or entertainment. 

Product Liability Claims

Product liability law holds parties strictly liable when defective products cause injuries or property damage

Strict liability generally applies in cases involving:

  • Design Defects – The product is inherently dangerous because of a flaw in its design. The flaw must have made the product unreasonably dangerous to use for strict liability to apply.
  • Manufacturing Defects – A flaw during the manufacturing process caused a defect. The defect made the product dangerous to use. You need to prove that the product was defective and the defect caused an injury to receive damages.
  • Marketing Defects – The company failed to include instructions or warnings of the potential risks associated with the product. The improper instructions or failure to warn caused an injury. 

Strict liability may not apply in all product liability cases. You must prove that the product was defective and the defect caused your injury. Also, if your negligence contributed to the cause of your injury, New York’s pure comparative negligence laws might apply.

Strict liability might not apply if a consumer used a product for an unintended purpose or in a way that the person knew could cause an injury. Another example would be using a product even though you know it is defective. In that case, you might assume the risk of injury. 

Abnormally Dangerous Activities

Some activities are so dangerous that the law holds parties engaging in these activities strictly liable for injuries and damages they cause. The party is strictly liable regardless of whether they took reasonable care to prevent injuries to another person.

Examples of abnormally dangerous activities that could result in strict liability include:

  • Blasting and demolition work
  • Digging canals
  • Containment of radioactive emissions
  • Fumigating, crop dusting, and other mass use of poisons or pesticides
  • Storing explosives
  • Disposing of hazardous waste

A party could exercise a high level of care to avoid accidents and minimize the risk of harm to others. However, they may still be held strictly liable for damages because of the abnormal danger and risk of engaging in such activities. 

Compensation for Damages in a Strict Liability Injury Claim 

In a strict liability personal injury case, you may seek compensation for your non-economic and economic damages. 

The damages you could receive include:

  • The costs and expenses related to medical treatment 
  • Costs for personal care or long-term nursing care
  • Loss of income, wages, earning potential, and benefits
  • Pain and suffering caused by emotional distress, physical injuries, and mental anguish
  • Impairments and disabilities
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

The New York statute of limitations restricts your time to file a personal injury claim based on strict liability. Therefore, seeking legal counsel as soon as possible after an injury or accident can protect your right to receive fair compensation for your damages. 

Contact a New York City Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation 

Liability laws can be confusing. The best way to know whether you have a strict liability claim is to talk with one of our experienced New York City personal injury attorneys.

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