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What Are the Components of a Strict Liability Case in Injury Law?

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When an insurance adjuster, a judge, or a juror has to evaluate the claims in an injury case, one of the first questions to resolve involves what sort of liability applies. The most common form of liability is negligence, and negligence cases involve comparisons of how much the victim and the defendant each contributed to what occurred. A second form is strict liability, where the question is primarily whether the defendant's actions led to what happened.

Typically, a personal injury lawyer wants to pursue a case based on strict liability if at all possible. Here are the components of a standard strict liability claim.

1. Presumed Dangers

Although the law recognizes that all activities carry some degree of hazard, it also notes that certain activities pose much greater dangers. Notably, these activities are usually legal. They're just ones that society knows need to be handled with immense care.

Someone who owns an exotic animal, for example, takes on strict liability the moment they acquire the animal. If the animal gets loose and attacks a neighbor, the animal's owner becomes instantly liable for all of the victim's injury expenses.

Many professional and licensed activities also come with strict liability. Nearly all explosives and demolition work falls into this category. Similarly, many types of work involving chemicals or biological agents do, too. Some states apply strict liability to dog bites, but when the liability kicks in is different. For example, a lot of states allow one bite before liability becomes strict for the next bite.

Generalized dangers to society also sometimes come with strict liability. Much of product liability law hinges on this theory. If a product has an inherent and harmful defect, the manufacturer is strictly liable to compensate injured parties.

2. Real Harm

Notably, a personal injury attorney can't just fire off a claim because an incident happened. If through sheer stupid luck the responsible party doesn't harm anybody, there isn't a case.

There has to be real harm. In many states, the harm has to include physical injuries and not just psychological traumas. Likewise, the level of injury has to involve something that required professional medical treatment. In theory, there is a requirement that the medical bill has to be significant, but the cost of medical care in the U.S. makes that almost presumptive. A lawyer will want a client to undergo at least one exam to establish what happened. The doctor will provide a report that will form the basis of the eventual claim.

For more information about handling your case, contact a personal injury lawyer.