What Is Strict Liability in Law?

In the legal world, situations can be governed by various regulations under different legal doctrines.

Liability can be defined by responsibility for an injuring incident or crime that often must be proven by a claimant. However, strict liability does not require proof and can be charged by a judge or court official.

Strict liability is only applied to specific situations, some of which are outlined below. Understanding strict liability can help you determine how it may apply to you and your current situation.

At the Schwartzapfel Lawyers law firm, we can answer all your questions about strict liability and NYS personal injury law. You can speak with one of our experienced strict liability lawyers by calling 1-516-342-2200 or visiting us online today.

What Is Strict Liability?

Legally defined, strict liability exists to hold an at-fault party responsible for their harmful actions despite their intentions.

When strict liability is applied, an incident or action is not assessed by the intent behind how and why it occurred, also called a defendant’s mental state or mens rea. Instead, it’s assessed by its harmful effects and consequences. Even if an at-fault party did not mean to harm others or cause property damage, they are still held responsible for any harm that results from their actions because of a reasonable duty of care. These instances can include times in which a plaintiff owns certain animals or participates in abnormally dangerous activities.

Another important characteristic of a strict liability claim is that it often does not require proof of liability for application purposes. This can be very convenient for the afflicted party but can make it much harder for an at-fault party to defend themselves.

What Are Tort Laws?

There are many legal subcategories under which you can exercise doctrines such as strict liability.

Tort laws are a subcategory of laws that refer to incidents in which individuals are injured or harmed due to the negligence or intentional action of an at-fault party. Tort laws exist under civil laws, which emphasize compensating victims of injury or harm for their losses. This differs from criminal law, which instead focuses on punishing transgressors and at-fault parties for their crimes.

Similarly, torts under civil law describe incidents that harm specific individuals or parties, while crimes under criminal law are typically considered publicly unjust.

Here are a few types of cases in which tort laws may apply:

  • Personal injury cases
  • Motor vehicle crash cases
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Wrongful death
  • Medical malpractice
  • Product liability claims
  • Manufacturing defects

Strict Liability in Tort Law

Strict liability in both tort and criminal law works to hold individuals and parties responsible for harmful actions.

When applied in the context of tort laws, strict liability holds at-fault parties liable for a negligent or harmful action, which therefore allows a victim or claimant to receive the compensation they are entitled to.

Depending on the circumstances of a case, strict liability can be applied to any incident in which tort laws are applicable. The only difference is that it removes the need for proof of liability or evidence of negligence.

If you are having trouble understanding strict liability and how it is exercised under tort laws, you can reach out to us at Schwartzapfel Lawyersfor the answers to all of your legal questions. Simply give us a call at 1-516-342-2200, and we will endeavor to assist you as best we can, no matter your situation or the circumstances surrounding your claim.

Strict Liability Crimes

There are specific strict liability crimes and incidents. While not all cases and incidents under tort laws are governed by strict liability, there are some instances in which you can apply it.

Instances in which strict liability is often applied include but are not limited to:

  • Those in which there was no intention of harm but injury or harm was still incurred
  • Acts in which an at-fault party took necessary precautions but a crash or incident still led to harm or injury

While there may be several situations that call for strict liability, the following sections outline the three (3) main categories of strict liability under tort law.

Products Liability Cases 

Product liability cases and incidents can result when a product put out by a manufacturer or company harms consumers. Strict liability cases involving products often concern many consumers who were harmed or injured by the same product, thanks to design defects.

These types of cases can involve (and extend beyond) such defective products as:

  • Children’s toys
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Electronics
  • Topical creams and/or cosmetics
  • Household equipment
  • Safety equipment and/or work tools

Injuries from the use of a product can happen due to product defects or poor design. In products like supplements or topical creams, injury can occur due to chemicals or toxic additives in a formula.

Manufacturers have a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of anyone who buys or uses their product. If a product has any risks or dangers, consumers must be clearly informed of those dangers and given proper instructions on how it can be safely used.

Under strict product liability law, regardless of whether or not a manufacturer was aware of the risks associated with a particular product, they are held responsible for any harm to their consumers.

Ultrahazardous Conditions and Activities

While injuries can happen in any circumstance, ultrahazardous conditions and activities increase the risk of accidents and injury, regardless of how much care is exercised.

The following is an inexhaustive sampling of what an ultrahazardous condition or activity may look like:

  • Storage, transportation, and/or handling of explosives and hazardous chemicals
  • Storage, transportation, and/or handling of nuclear or radioactive material and waste
  • Demolishing a building or structure
  • Controlled fires or burning of a field or structure

In such cases, strict liability is applied because of the high-risk such activities and conditions pose. Anyone who engages in ultrahazardous activities is held responsible for any accidents that may occur as a result, even if they enforced all the necessary safety measures.

Keeping Wild Animals and Animal Bites

Various laws govern the private ownership of wild animals, many of which ban the keeping of exotic and feral animals as pets. Regardless, under strict liability, anyone who chooses to own any type of animal is responsible for injuries that may be incurred to others as a result.

Owners are responsible for keeping their pets and animals from attacking others. This most commonly applies to dog bites that result from dog owners not restraining their dogs or keeping aggressive dogs as pets. Dog bite cases are a common type of personal injury case.

If an attack from a dog was not provoked by the injured party, then the plaintiff is protected under strict liability and may receive compensation for the plaintiff’s injuries.

While these are the three main categories of cases in which strict liability is enforced, they are not the only situations it can be applied. For more about where and why strict liability is applied, you can reach out to the skilled personal injury attorneys at Schwartzapfel Lawyersby calling 1-516-342-2200 today. Alternatively, you can schedule your free consultation or case evaluation by visiting us online.

Strict Liability Law: A Summary

Liability is responsibility for harm or injuries incurred to others due to negligence. In many cases, proving liability requires evidence.

In some cases, however, strict liability is applied, and evidence is not required to hold an at-fault party responsible for injuries or harm.

Strict liability is often applied to cases in which harm was incurred despite the at-fault party’s intentions. Even if an at-fault party did not mean any harm or was not aware of any risks, and even if they had taken all the necessary precautions to prevent an injury from happening, it still happened.

Under existing tort law and strict liability laws, there is a focus on compensating individuals for their injuries or losses, regardless of how an incident or crash may have occurred.

How the Right Lawyer Can Help

Even though strict liability often waives the need for proof or evidence of responsibility, details can differ from case to case. Strict liability offenses do not guarantee that the plaintiff or claimant in a case will win the case or receive compensation. It also does not guarantee that the defendant will lose the case or not be able to argue against charges on grounds such as contributory negligence, assumption of risk, or statute of limitations.

Because personal injury law cases are not often resolved quickly, it is best to hire the right lawyer to help strengthen your argument so that you and your family may receive all the money and benefits you are entitled to. A skilled lawyer can also help you understand how strict liability may apply to your case.

At Schwartzapfel Lawyers, we can connect you with a seasoned lawyer who fits your case and can answer all your questions. It would be our honor and privilege to fight for you in and out of court, and a simple phone call can save you miles of headache, heartache, and financial strain down the road.

So, please, call the knowledgeable personal injury attorneys at Schwartzapfel Lawyersby dialing 1-516-342-2200 to secure your free consultation today!

DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this page should be considered legal advice. You should seek the appropriate counsel your situation requires. For more information, call 1-516-342-2200 now!


Schwartzapfel Lawyers, P.C. | Fighting For You

Strict Liability – Legal Information Institute | Cornell Law School

Tort – Legal Information Institute | Cornell Law School

Strict Liability: Legal Definition & Examples | Forbes Advisor

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