What is a Strict Liability Tort?

pit bull dog for which someone might have liability
Madeleine Jones
November 15, 2021

Can you think of a situation where someone didn’t mean to cause harm, but their actions meant an obvious risk? Maybe you thought about keeping an exotic animal, like a tiger, or drag racing. These activities can be entertaining, but some people may consider them dangerous and abnormal in their communities. Whenever these actions result in someone else getting injured, it can lead to a legal case that involves called a strict liability tort.

What is Strict Liability?

Unlike an intentional liability tort, a strict liability holds someone liable for their products or actions, without the plaintiff having to prove fault or negligence. When someone participates in dangerous activities such as using explosives, keeping wild animals, or making defective products, then they may be held responsible if someone else gets injured.

Even if the defendant took all of the precautions and followed safety measures, a strict liability crime is unique in that they would still hold them responsible. Given the nature of the activity, the defendant should have been able to foresee that someone could get hurt by it.

The Different Categories of Strict Liability

The three main categories of strict liability are:

  • Consumer Product Liability: If a product is defective and causes injury, making the product dangerous, the seller of the product or manufacturer will be responsible under strict liability.
  • Keeping Wild Animals: anyone who has a wild animal will be held liable for any harm their animal may cause someone else.
  • Ultrahazardous Activities: Activities such as using explosives or transporting volatile chemicals will be considered strict liability by the court if someone gets injured.

While these categories are different, they share the same theme. These activities are dangerous and require a high level of responsibility by the defendant. A manufacturer has the goal of earning the public’s trust. Lawfully speaking, they are dedicated to creating and selling products that people should be able to trust and use without getting injured. So when a manufacturer betrays that trust, even if it was unintentional, and the consumer gets injured by their product, they would be held liable.

Having a wild animal means that as an owner they assume a specific responsibility, knowing that a wild animal is dangerous. An ultrahazardous activity, like using explosives, clearly is dangerous and often is only conducted by professionals who are trained on how to handle something so dangerous.

What Does a Plaintiff Have To Prove To Win?

A plaintiff has to show the following in order to win a strict liability claim:

  • Proof of injury
  • Proof that the defendant’s product or actions caused their injury
  • Clear proof that the actions were hazardous or that the defendant had control over them

When Is A Manufacturer Not Liable for Product-Related Injuries?

In some specific cases, a manufacturer won’t be held liable for injuries caused by a product. For example, a baby food company creates a formula. They package and ship the product, and it is safe to eat. However, when the store stocks the formula, they put it in a place where it got damaged and infected with a harmful substance making the product deadly. 

Clearly, the baby food company didn’t make any mistakes, it is the store’s mistake stocking it where they did. The store will be more likely held responsible and not the manufacturer.

In the end, if a manufacturer exhausts all measures to ensure their products are safe, as well as warns consumers of any dangers, they may limit themselves from potential responsibility.

Do I Need a Lawyer For a Strict Liability Tort?

If you were injured and believe you have a strict liability tort claim, you should contact Cogburn Law as soon as possible. Our team will be able to tell you what your rights are, help you in gathering evidence, and help build a strong case. Your case can be settled out of court, but if your case goes to trial, we can represent your best interests! Call us now at (702) 747-6000

Cogburn Law has been my first experience working with a law firm. Not only did they come to my home because I was so badly bruised, but they answered every call and email in a timely fashion. When the time came to present my case, they made sure I was informed of every detail. Jamie won my case because he is an extremely talented lawyer who genuinely cares about his clients.

Jenna F.