What Is Strict Liability? 

If you were injured in an accident caused by someone else, the usual legal theory you use to demand compensation for your resulting damages is negligence. This legal theory requires you to show the defendant owed you a duty of care, breached that duty of care, and caused you to suffer damages. 

However, in some cases, strict liability applies instead. When strict liability applies, you do not have to establish the elements of negligence.    

What Does Strict Liability Mean?

What Does Strict Liability Mean?

When a defendant is strictly liable, that means the defendant is responsible for the harm they caused without regard to their intent or carelessness. The plaintiff does not have to show the defendant was negligent or even acted wrongly. If they can prove the basis of a strict liability claim, they are entitled to compensation. 

For example, strict liability can apply to cases involving defective products. If the plaintiff can show that the product was defective and was harmed by it, the product manufacturer may be strictly liable for the damages the plaintiff suffered. The plaintiff does not have to show the manufacturer was negligent in causing the product defect. 

Why Base Some Cases on Strict Liability?

Courts impose strict liability in some situations because they want potential defendants to take necessary precautions to prevent injuries or harm to others. By decreasing the plaintiff’s burden of proof, it is easier for a plaintiff to prove their case and recover compensation for their losses, which can create a situation defendants want to avoid. 

If harm does occur, the process to recover compensation can be relatively straightforward and expedited. 

Examples of Cases Where Strict Liability May Apply 

Strict liability generally applies to cases involving:

Dog Bites

Illinois is a strict liability state for dog bites and other animal attacks. If an animal attacks, attempts to attack, or injures a person without provocation who is peaceably conducting themselves on property they are on lawfully, the dog owner is strictly liable for the full extent of the plaintiff’s damages. 

To show the strict liability law applies, the plaintiff must only show the following:

  • They were legally on some property.
  • They were attacked or injured by a dog or other animal.
  • The defendant was the owner of the dog.
  • They did not provoke the dog. 
  • They were peaceably conducting themselves.

The plaintiff does not have to show that the dog owner was negligent in causing the attack or that they knew the dog had any prior history of violence.  

Abnormally Dangerous Activities 

Illinois law also provides strict liability in cases involving ultrahazardous activity. In these cases, the defendant is responsible for any injury or property damage proximately caused by that activity except to a plaintiff who has actual knowledge of the dangers involved and voluntarily participated in the activity. 

Examples of ultrahazardous activities include:

  • Dynamite blasting
  • Crop dusting
  • Mass use of poisons
  • Storing gasoline 
  • Storing explosives

To be considered an ultrahazardous or abnormally dangerous activity, the activity must generally involve a risk of serious harm that cannot be eliminated through the exercise of the utmost care and is not commonly undertaken by the public on a regular basis.

Product Liability 

Illinois also uses strict liability in cases involving defective products. Manufacturers and sellers can be strictly liable for the damages they cause because of a defective product. To win this type of claim, the plaintiff must show the product was defective and caused their injuries. 

Product defects may include one or more of the following:

  • Manufacturing defect – A manufacturing defect occurs when there is a problem that occurs during the manufacturing process that makes one or a batch of products produced in a way that does not conform to schematics.
  • Design defect – A design defect occurs when a product is inherently unsafe based on its original design. All products made under this design are defective. 
  • Warning defect – A warning defect occurs when there are insufficient 

An experienced product liability lawyer can review your case and help support your claim by working with expert witnesses who can explain how the defect occurred. 

Besides strict liability, there are other legal theories that may apply in product liability cases. The plaintiff can still rely upon a theory of negligence by showing that the product manufacturer or seller failed to exercise reasonable care in the product’s design, manufacture, or marketing which caused their injuries.

Another possible legal theory to use in product liability cases is breach of warranty. There may be an express or implied warranty that the product will work a certain way and can be used safely. If it fails to live up to these promises, the manufacturer or seller can be held liable for the resulting harm. 

Contact a Knowledgeable Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer For Assistance

If you were injured because of another party’s actions, an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer can review your case and determine the legal theories that apply to your case. Contact the experienced Attorneys of Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers today for a free case review.  You can call us at (312) 929-2884.