Strict Liability: When a Personal Injury Case Isn’t About Negligence
Most personal injury cases arise as the result of an accident or injury that was caused by the negligence of another person. But are there any other circumstances when a plaintiff might have grounds to bring a personal injury lawsuit?
Those who suffered injury from a defective or dangerous product may have an easier time recovering compensation for their injuries than someone who was injured in another way because of the special rules and theories of recovery developed in the area of strict liability.
Since would be extremely difficult for consumers to show how and when a manufacturer was careless in making a product, they should not be expected to prove whether the seller had a proper system for checking for manufacturer’s defects, and they can’t reasonably check each product before using it to determine if it is defective or dangerous. Because of this, the law developed a doctrine known as strict liability.
Strict liability holds product designers and manufacturers liable for injuries suffered from their defective merchandise. Ordinarily, in order to hold a company responsible for your injuries, you must prove that it was negligent and its carelessness led to your injury. But in strict liability cases, an injured person does not have to establish negligence on the part of the designer or manufacturer. Instead, he or she needs to show that the product was designed or manufactured in a manner that made it unreasonably dangerous when used as intended.
But strict liability only applies to a non-manufacturer who sold or rented a defective product if it is in the business of regularly selling or renting those particular kinds of products, meaning that if you bought a product at a yard sale or thrift shop that sells all types of products, strict liability may not apply.
Elements of a Strict Liability Claim
A strict liability claim may be made if all the following conditions exist:
- The product had an unreasonably dangerous defect that injured you during use. The defect may be in the design, manufacture, or handling and shipment of the product.
- The defect caused an injury while the product was being used in the way that it was intended to be used.
- The product had not been substantially changed from the condition it was in when it was initially sold.
Defense to a Strict Liability Claim
One defense that manufacturers and sellers may have to a strict liability claim is that if the injured person has owned the product for a certain amount of time, they may not be able to claim strict liability if they knew about the defect but continued to use the product. If it appears from the condition of the product or a plaintiff’s description of the way the product was used that he was aware of the defect before the accident but used the product anyway, the consumer may have given up his right to claim injury damages. The defendants might also argue that the consumer was partially at fault for their own injuries.
Colorado law recognizes that consumers have a right to buy and use products with the expectation that they are safe and free from dangerous defects, and through the application of the strict liability doctrine, compensation can be recovered from a designer or manufacturer of an unreasonably dangerous product, without proving that the company acted negligently.
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