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What is ‘strict liability’ in products liability law?

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When a consumer is injured by a product that has been placed in the stream of commerce, that individual may have the right to compensation from a party who is responsible for the injury. To do so, the injured party generally needs to file a civil lawsuit making a claim under which he or she can recover damages. With products liability, the two most common claims are that the manufacturer or seller of the product was negligent at some point, or that one, or both, of these parties is strictly liable for the injury. We’ve previously discussed some of the elements of negligence in certain cases. This time, we’ll take a very brief look at strict liability.

Strict liability is a concept that grows out of a policy decision made by society that, in certain circumstances, parties should be held responsible for damage or injury done even if there is no showing of actual fault, such as intent, recklessness or negligence. The idea is that, for example, it benefits society to have consumer products be as safe as possible, and that the makers of these products have the best capability to bear the costs associated with doing so.

Now, this strict liability doesn’t mean the same thing as ‘automatic liability.’ The plaintiff in a case still must prove certain elements to be true to make the defendant liable. The basic elements of a strict liability claim are that the defendant fabricated or manufactured the product, that the defects in the product were extant when it was purchased by the plaintiff, or when sold by the defendant, that the defect was, in fact, the cause of the injury to plaintiff, and that harm caused was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the defect.

As can be seen, while the elements are somewhat different than a negligence claim, many of them may overlap. Further, a strict liability claim still needs to be handled carefully so as to avoid having it thrown out for not stating sufficient grounds for a claim. Those who have been injured by a defective product may wish to consider protecting their rights by contacting an experienced attorney.

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