What is absolute liability?


Absolute liability, also called strict liability, is imposed on individuals whose specific actions, or failures to act, result in third-party losses, such as bodily injury or property damage.

Even if no harm has been intended or when the defendant cannot be accused of lack of care for the others, they can be held liable for committing an absolute liability tort in certain situations involving extremely hazardous activities.

Situations in which Absolute Liability is Imposed

A person is considered liable by definition and regardless of fault, in the following circumstances:

  • If one's employees are injured while working.
  • If one keeps or owns wild or dangerous animals and they cause property damage or bodily injury.
  • If an individual stores or manufactures explosives or flammable liquids and an explosion occurs, causing harm to other people or their property.
  • If an individual is involved in the chain of commerce of certain products that have turned out to be defective or harmful to others.

All the above situations are considered inherently dangerous which is why the law of absolute liability is applied to the people in charge, irrespective of whether they have made any effort to prevent the occurrence or of whether it has been an accident.

Things to Consider with Absolute Liability

Although absolute liability is imposed in the situations listed above, the strict liability tort law has some exclusions and special considerations:

  • With respect to blasting and the storage of explosives, the tortfeasor might be found liable if living in a big city, but if they live in a small village or in a ranch, they might escape absolute liability.
  • The absolute liability arising out of owning wild animals does not typically apply to domesticated animals, such as dogs, cats, horses, sheep, cattle, etc. However, the owner of a vicious dog who knew about their dog's natural tendency and did not take any measures to restrain it, might be held liable if the dog bites somebody.
  • To impose absolute liability on a product manufacturer, the harmed party needs to provide evidence that the product is defective, and that the defect is the proximate cause of the injury.
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