Absolute Liability

In personal injury lawsuits, liability or responsibility for the injuries suffered must be determined in order for a lawsuit to be resolved and any assignment of damages to be made. One form of liability under personal injury law is Absolute or Strict Liability.

In cases where strict liability is assigned to an individual or company, the court holds the defendant:

  1. responsible for all the injuries suffered by the claimant regardless of any fault the claimant holds for his or her own injuries.
  2. strictly liability regardless of whether or not the defendant knowingly or willingly put the claimant in harm’s way.

In other words, in strict liability cases, no establishment of negligence or fault for the injuries need be determined. Even if the defendant’s own actions contributed to his or her own injuries, the court still assigns strict liability or responsibility for the injuries to the defendant.

In most states, personal injury lawsuits require the determination of negligence and an assessment of degrees of fault for the injuries before any decision can be made on the claim, any damages assigned, or compensation paid to the claimant. However, the majority of states also have certain kinds of personal injury cases that fall under the “doctrine of strict liability”.

Cases that are governed by the doctrine of strict liability are most often product-related lawsuits. The defendant in these cases is the manufacturer of the product that caused the claimant’s injuries.

Other personal injury claims can result in the assignment of strict or absolute liability. However, in order for a non-product-related personal injury claim to be reviewed under the doctrine of strict liability, the incident that resulted in injuries must be “inherently dangerous”.

A few examples of “inherently dangerous” activities that could lead to strict or absolute liability personal injury claims include:

  • the handling and disposal of toxic substances
  • construction or demolition work
  • and wild animal handling