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What is strict liability?

Strict liability comes into play in product liability cases. It is a doctrine that allows individuals injured by a product to seek compensation without showing specific manufacturing or other neglect. Strict liability is easier to prove than traditional liability, but it does have some requirements.

To make a strict liability claim, you must have an injury that you can prove was caused by a defect in a product. The injury has to occur because of the defect, and it must occur while you are using the product in a way that was intended by the manufacturer. For example, if you are using an umbrella to keep sun or rain ioff, these are reasonable uses. If you are using the umbrella to slow your descent as you jump from a roof, that is not a reasonable use.

The defect that caused your injury must be a result of manufacture, design or handling and shipping. Reasonable wear and tear over time might cause injuries that make a product dangerous, but those issues are not usually covered under strict liability. For example, a power drill that is ten years old and has developed a frayed cord should be repaired to thrown out; use of the drill is not necessarily a reflection of manufacturer liability.

Finally, the product can't have been changed substantially from the format in which it was provided by the manufacturer. Wear and tear might be an example of substantial change; additions the consumer makes can also be substantial changes.

If your injury falls within the rules for strict liability, you could have a case for compensation from a manufacturer or retailer who sold the item. This is true even if the companies in question were not negligent in selling the item.

Source: FindLaw, "Proving Fault in a Product Liability Case," accessed Oct. 30, 2015

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Gary D. Ginsberg is a Certified Civil Trial Lawyer who has been recognized as an expert in litigating cases in the courts of New Jersey.

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