In most personal injury cases, there are individual people to blame for causing the injuries or damages incurred. For instance, a drunk driving case is often the fault of the driver who got behind the wheel after one too many drinks; a slip-and-fall accident outside of a business may be the result of the owner’s failure to properly maintain a safe space for clients.
These cases are based on the negligence of one (or more) individual(s) and the injured party may seek to bring personal injury claims against those whom they believe to be responsible for damages.
However, there are cases where injured persons have cause to file personal injury lawsuits against an entire company, manufacturer or corporation. When a defective or dangerous product causes harm to a user, that individual may choose to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer under the theory of strict liability.
What Is Strict Liability?
The idea of strict liability has special rules and recovery theories that govern what happens when a consumer is injured due to a manufacturing error or manufacturer negligence. It’s often hard for consumers to prove exactly how and when in the process a manufacturer was careless or negligent in product design and use or whether there was a safety check system in place. It is also difficult to expect manufacturers to personally inspect and monitor every single product before it hits the streets.
For this reason, the doctrine of strict liability was developed. Strict liability makes product designers and manufacturers responsible for any injuries that occur as a result of their defective merchandise. In most cases, an injured party has to prove that a company negligently produced a product that caused harm in order to sue the company for damages. However, a strict liability case eliminates the burden of proof for the plaintiff.
Instead of proving the manufacturer’s negligence, the injured victim only has to prove that the product was made or designed in such a way that makes it dangerous when it is used the way the makers intended. A strict liability claim must include all of the following components:
- Proof that the product has an unreasonably dangerous flaw or defect that caused the injury. This could include any design flaws, manufacturing errors or handling and shipment issues that caused the product to be dangerous.
- Proof that the injured user was handling the product in the way the manufacturers intended it to be used — meaning, for instance, that the user wasn’t swinging a chain saw above his head when he was injured, but rather was using the chain saw the way it was meant to be used.
- Proof that the product had not been changed significantly from the condition it was in when it was first made and sold.
Strict liability claims can only be brought against a manufacturer who sells a defective product if the product is within the scope of that manufacturer’s typical business. For example, if you buy a defective chain saw from a third party and not directly from the manufacturer, you can’t file a strict liability claim; however, there may be other remedies available against the seller of the product.
At Levine Law, a Denver personal injury law firm, we represent anyone who has a personal injury or strict liability claim. For more information, or to discuss your case, contact our attorneys today.