What is “Strict Liability” in California Personal Injury Cases?
When a person sustains an injury caused by the actions of another individual or entity in California, then they should be able to recover compensation for their losses. This includes coverage of medical bills, lost wages, property damage expenses, and pain and suffering damages. In most personal injury claims, it is important to prove the negligence of the at-fault party, but that is not always the case. There are times when strict liability will apply to a personal injury claim, which means that a person will not have to prove the other party’s negligence.
How Most Personal Injury Cases Work
In most personal injury cases in California, it will be necessary to show that the at-fault party was negligent and that their actions more than likely caused the injury in question. There are various elements of negligence in place, but the gist is that there must be evidence showing that the defendant likely caused the incident before an insurance carrier or personal injury jury will award the injury victim compensation.
However, with strict liability claims, the bar is set lower when it comes to whether or not the defendant will be required to pay compensation to the injury victim.
How a Strict Liability Claim Works
For a strict liability injury claim in California, the at-fault party will be held responsible and required to pay compensation even if they are at least partially responsible for the incident. The at-fault party does not even have to have intended to cause the injury. They also need not have been negligent.
All a personal injury victim has to show to recover compensation under a strict liability theory is that the at-fault party was responsible in some way for causing the injury.
In the state of California, there are only a few instances where strict liability actually applies. This includes:
- Product liability. Individuals use and consume hundreds of products each day, and they depend on these products being safe for themselves and their families. If a product is defective and causes harm to a consumer, then the company, manufacturer, or retailer will likely be able to bring a personal injury claim under the theory of strict liability. In order to succeed in these cases, a plaintiff must prove that the product was defectively designed, manufactured, or marketed and that the defect caused an injury.
- Dog attacks. In the state of California, dog owners are held strictly liable for any injuries caused by a dog bite. The owner does not have to be found to be negligent in any way. As long as the injury victim was on public property or lawfully on private property, and so long as they did not provoke the dog, they will be able to recover compensation from the dog owner.
- Extra hazardous activities. The state of California defines ultra-hazardous activities through state code (California Health & Safety Code section 12005.5, California Water Code section 13350(b)). When these injury cases arrive, a court will have to decide whether or not the activity was ultra-hazardous based on several factors, including the risk of harm presented by the activity, the ease of limiting the risk of harm, and the value to the community of engaging in the activity.
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