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Strict Liability

When another party causes an injury due to negligence, they may be financially liable for the victim’s economic and non-economic damages. They may also be liable for property damages under Massachusetts tort law.

What is Tort Law?

Tort law governs personal injury claims. A tort is a conduct that results in harm or injury to another party that can result in liability for damages. 

Negligence is the basis for most tort/personal injury claims. Negligence is the failure to act with reasonable care. If you can prove a person acted negligently and caused your injury, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages.

In some cases, a party may be held strictly liable for the damages caused to a person. Some people refer to strict liability as an absolute liability because you do not need to prove negligence or intent in these cases. It applies in both criminal law cases and civil cases.

Strict Liability in Criminal Cases

Strict Liability in Criminal Cases

The concept of strict liability does not rest on mens rea. Mens rea refers to criminal intent or the intention or knowledge of wrongdoing. Thus, a person could be found guilty of a crime, even if the person did not knowingly or purposefully commit the crime.

For example, drunk driving is a crime in which strict liability could apply. A person could serve jail time or receive other criminal penalties for driving under the influence even if they believe they drank non-alcoholic drinks.

Likewise, having intercourse, even consensual sex, with a person under 16 years of age could result in a statutory rape charge. It would not matter if the defendant knew or should have known that the person was under 16 years old. If the other person was under 16 years old, the offender could be held strictly liable under criminal law.

Strict Liability in Personal Injury Cases

As discussed above, negligence is the basis for most liability claims. However, there are several situations in which a party could be strictly liable for other damages.

Dog Bites and Wild Animals

Massachusetts laws hold dog owners strictly liable for dog bites and attacks. All you need to prove to hold a dog owner liable for damages is:

  • The person owned the dog
  • The dog caused injuries or property damage
  • You did not instigate the situation or abuse the animal
  • You were on the property legally at the time of the attack 

Strict liability also covers the possession of wild animals. Wild and exotic animals are not pets. The fact that you had a wild animal makes you strictly liable for damages they caused. You could be liable even though you took precautions to prevent injuries.

Product Liability Cases

Product liability laws hold manufacturers and other parties strictly liable for a defective product that causes injury or harm. 

The victim only needs to prove that:

  • The product was defective in its design, manufacturing, or marketing
  • The defect resulted in a hazard or danger when the product was used for its intended purpose
  • The defect caused the injury
  • The person sustained damages because of the defect

However, if the person tampered with the product before using the product, the defendant could use that action as a defense to strict liability. 

Abnormally Dangerous Activities 

Engaging in activities that are inherently dangerous or unreasonably dangerous could result in strict liability. In these scenarios, it doesn’t matter if the parties acted reasonably. If the activity is considered an abnormally dangerous activity, then the parties are strictly liable for harm caused by the activity. 

The abnormally dangerous activity must be something that has a foreseeable risk of injury to persons or property. Also, the abnormally dangerous activity must be something that most people do not commonly do. 

Examples of abnormally dangerous activities could include activities that involve nuclear materials, storing explosives, blasting and demolition, and transporting dangerous chemicals.

Proving Strict Liability for a Personal Injury 

Strict liability imposes a higher standard of liability for injuries and deaths. However, you must still prove the legal elements of your case to hold the other party responsible for your injuries and damages. You have the burden of proof, even in strict liability cases. 

The legal requirements for strict liability vary depending on the type of case and the facts of the case. Therefore, it is essential to seek legal counsel after an injury. 

An attorney can review your case, determine the legal grounds for a claim, and gather the evidence necessary to prove each legal element required to hold the party liable for damages.

Call Our Boston Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation 

You deserve fair compensation when another party causes you to be injured or harmed. Contact us or call (617)-391-9001 our law firm to schedule a free consultation with one of our Boston personal injury attorneys. Let’s discuss your legal options and how we can help you get the money you deserve.