Though it’s possible to bring a personal injury claim for the intentional or reckless acts of another person, in practice the vast majority of claims for damages are based on a legal theory of negligence, where the defendant’s conduct simply didn’t meet the standard expected by a reasonable person. There are situations, however, where a person may be found liable without the need to show negligence—these types of claims fall under a legal concept known as “strict liability.”
As a general rule, strict liability offenses are statutory in nature. That means that the legislature has enacted a written law establishing liability for the specific act. The concept of strict liability is commonly applied to activities that are considered so inherently dangerous that anyone engaging in them must assume all potential liability for injuries resulting from the activity. Accordingly, there’s typically no measure of diligence or care that such a person can employ to avoid liability. Most strict liability statutes have two requirements to establish responsibility for losses:
- That the defendant was engaged in the activity described in the statute
- That the plaintiff suffered injury as a result of the defendant’s engagement in the activity described therein
There are, however, two potential defenses to a claim of strict liability—contributory negligence and assumption of risk.
- An assertion of contributory negligence alleges that the injured party contributed to his or her own injury. Depending on the degree to which the plaintiff contributed to the accident, and the jurisdiction, contributory negligence may absolve a defendant of liability.
- Assumption of risk holds that there are certain activities that require that anyone engaged in them assume some of the risk of potential injury.
The types of activities commonly addressed in strict liability statutes include such things as owning or harboring wild animals, transporting or manufacturing explosives or fireworks, or working with hazardous chemicals.
At the Law Offices of Gregg A. Wisotsky, I offer a free phone consultation to every prospective client. For a complimentary evaluation of your case, contact my office online or call me at 973-898-0161. I will come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary. All major credit cards are accepted.