What is the Relationship Between Strict Liability and Product Liability?

Strict liability is when a defendant is liable for their actions despite their intent. Normally, you must have done something wrong or failed to perform an obligation in order to face liability. If strict liability applies, however, you can bear liability even without fault.

Most states recognize strict liability under three circumstances—animal attacks, abnormally dangerous activities, and defective products. Product liability cases often involve proving that the defendant is strictly liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. 

Dog Bites and Other Animal Attacks

In many states, the owner or keeper of an animal is strictly liable for losses if it attacks someone. Some states apply a “one-bite rule” to dog bites. Under the one-bite rule, the owner must have had reason to know of the dog’s aggressive tendencies in order to bear liability.

In states like California, there is no one-bite rule—you can hold a dog owner liable no matter how passive the dog’s behavior had been up until the bite.

Defenses to Dog Bite Claims

Following are some of the most common defenses to a dog bite claim:

Negligence law applies if the defendant’s animal attacks another animal.

Ultrahazardous Activities

People who engage in ultrahazardous activities face strict liability if someone gets hurt or killed because of the activity. An abnormally dangerous activity is an activity that cannot be made safe, no matter how careful you are.

Examples of abnormally dangerous activities include:

The foregoing are only specific examples of ultrahazardous activities. Other examples are also possible.

What is Product Liability?

Product liability law applies when someone suffers an injury due to a defective product.

Following are some examples:

Subject to certain limitations, the victim can sue any party in the product’s chain of distribution.

Types of Product Defects

Like other strict liability claims, you don’t have to prove negligence to win a product liability claim. Unlike other strict liability claims, however, you do have to prove that the product was defective.

There are three types of defects that can give rise to a valid product liability claim:

A product can suffer from one or more of these defects.

The Product Must Be Unreasonably Dangerous

In addition to a product defect, a product must be “unreasonably dangerous” to trigger liability.

The two tests to determine whether a product is unreasonably dangerous are:

If the product fails either of these two tests, it is unreasonably dangerous.

Possible Defenses in a Product Liability Claim

There are many possible defenses against a product liability claim, including:

Other defenses are also possible.

A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help Prove Strict Liability

If you’ve been injured by a defective product or sustained an injury in another case based on strict liability, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer for assistance.