What is strict liability?


Strict liability, often referred to as absolute liability, applies in situations in which an inherently dangerous activity causes damages or injuries to someone. Even if there is no intention or negligence in the actions of the people responsible, they will still be held liable, regardless of fault.

When Strict Liability Applies

A person may be held strictly liable for damages or injuries caused to a third party as a result of highly hazardous activities involving wild animals, dangerous materials and any other risky operations. Here is a list of some situations in which absolute liability is imposed:

  • Manufacturing and production of explosives;
  • Keeping wild or poisonous animals;
  • Blasting;
  • Injuries or illness sustained by employees while being on the job;
  • Manufacturing defective products.

And here is a hypothetical situation in which absolute liability applies:

A traveling circus drives into town for their much-expected performance. Despite all the precautions, one of the bears manages to escape and damages a lot of other people's personal property on its way. Even though Ben, the circus-owner has not deliberately let the bear loose, he will be held liable for damage to personal and public property for keeping dangerous animals. Even proving that he has taken all the safety measure necessary will not help Ben avoid strict liability.

Strict Product Liability

Whereas the term absolute liability is applied mainly to dangerous animals and hazardous operations, strict liability, more often than not, applies to product manufacturing. Thus, a company might be held liable for the production or the distribution of defective commodities or products that cause injuries. Strict product liability is imposed only when the claimant proves that the product is defective or that they have incurred injuries as a result of using the product.

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