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Difference Between Strict Liability and Negligence: Legal Distinctions Explained

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St Louis personal injury Specialists

Explore the critical differences between strict liability and negligence in personal injury law. Understand how these legal concepts affect your rights and compensation claims, with insights into navigating legal challenges with Buchanan, Williams & O’Brien, P.C.

Buchanan, Williams & O’Brien have been a trusted law firm serving Missourians for over 40 years.

  • Committed to always treating clients with courtesy & respect
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Strict Liability vs. Negligence in Personal Injury Claims

When you’re injured, understanding the legal principles that apply to your case is essential. Strict liability and negligence are key concepts in personal injury law that affect how you pursue compensation.

Strict liability holds a party responsible for damages, irrespective of fault or intent. In cases involving strict liability, we only need to prove that the injury occurred and the defendant was involved. Typical scenarios include defective product cases, where a company may be held strictly liable if a product is found to be unreasonably dangerous, regardless of whether it exercised care in its production.

Negligence, however, requires proof that the defendant breached a duty of care owed to you and that this breach directly caused your injuries. This includes a broad spectrum of cases ranging from car accidents to medical malpractice, where proving the defendant acted less carefully than a reasonably prudent person would have is crucial.

Our Buchanan, Williams & O’Brien, P.C. team has encountered various instances where these principles apply. For over 40 years, we have secured justice for clients in personal injury claims—from dog bite cases to injuries sustained by customers due to semi-truck and automobile negligence.

Whether your case involves a defective product or automobile negligence claim, we approach each situation with clarity and dedication, ensuring that our clients receive the compensation they deserve for their losses, including lost wages, medical expenses, and compensation for emotional distress.

Understanding Strict Liability

One area of tort law, known as strict liability, is essential to recover compensation for those suffering due to a defective product or an abnormally dangerous activity. Strict liability pertains to holding parties liable without the need to prove negligence or intent.

A strict liability claim primarily revolves around:

  • Product Liability: We can hold the manufacturer responsible if a product causes injury due to a design defect or manufacturing flaw. A common case involves injury from a defective product where proving the manufacturer’s negligence is unnecessary.
  • Abnormally Dangerous Activities: Engaging in inherently hazardous actions that result in injury or death can result in strict liability torts.

In a strict liability lawsuit, the victims must prove the product was defective and that the product or activity was unreasonably dangerous. This differs from negligence as the focus shifts from the defendant’s conduct to the nature of the product or activity itself.

Our extensive experience has shown that strict liability law is a crucial avenue for clients to receive restitution without the burden of proving fault. It reflects the principle of liability without fault. When representing clients in product liability cases, we work tenaciously to demonstrate that a product is unsafe, causing injury or worse.

If you’ve been harmed by what you suspect is a defective product, our team of Springfield Product Liability Attorneys stands ready to deliver the dedicated legal support you need.

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Understanding Negligence

Negligence is a fundamental concept in personal injury law. It refers to the failure to exercise a level of care that a reasonable person would maintain under similar circumstances. A duty of care is expected when one’s actions—or lack thereof—can cause harm to others.

For an act to be considered negligent, four key components proving negligence must be established:

  1. Duty: The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff.
  2. Breach: The defendant breached this duty through action or inaction.
  3. Causation: The breach of duty caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
  4. Damages: The plaintiff suffered losses or injuries as a result.

When handling cases involving different types of torts such as car accidents or other negligence-based torts, we ensure that individuals receive the compensation they deserve. 

We approach each case by evaluating if the actions in question fall below the standards of a reasonably prudent person. A reasonably prudent person is a legal definition and benchmark used to determine if someone’s actions were reasonable.

Each case of negligence we encounter is unique, with its own set of facts and circumstances. Yet, the goal remains steadfast—to secure rightful compensation. 

Understanding Negligence

Confused about Personal Injury in St Louis? We are here to answer your questions.

Key Differences Between Strict Liability and Negligence

Understanding the nuances between strict liability and negligence is crucial in tort law, especially when dealing with personal injury cases. Both concepts play a significant role in how we at Buchanan, Williams & O’Brien, P.C. approach securing the average settlement workers’ compensation for our clients.

The three key differences are fault, breach of duty, and damages: 

  • Fault:
    • Negligence: The defendant’s conduct is below the standard of care.
    • Strict Liability: Liability without fault—conduct not considered.
  • Breach of Duty:
    • Negligence: Must prove the defendant breached the duty.
    • Strict Liability: No need to prove breach, only harm occurrence.
  • Damages:
    • Negligence: Compensation linked to the extent of negligence.
    • Strict Liability: Damages are often based on the activity’s nature.

Regarding negligence, we meticulously demonstrate that the defendant acted without due care or violated a standard of care. In contrast, with strict liability, the focus shifts. The onus is on showing that the defendant caused the injuries without delving into whether they acted with or without due care.

The burden of proof is lighter in strict liability cases because it is not required to establish that the defendant was at fault for the injury. This can significantly impact personal injury claims, as legal doctrine on strict liability often pertains to inherently dangerous activities or defective products that injure someone, even absent negligent conduct.

As a firm, we work tirelessly to elucidate every detail of our client’s cases, whether that involves establishing negligence or invoking strict liability claims, to achieve the results our clients deserve.

Navigating Legal Challenges with Buchanan, Williams & O’Brien, P.C.

At Buchanan, Williams & O’Brien, P.C., we understand that navigating the legal terrain of personal injury claims can be daunting. Our team of dedicated attorneys is equipped to handle various cases, including those governed by strict liability and cases hinging on negligence.

In strict liability cases, a third defendant’s breach can be held liable without fault, particularly in scenarios involving inherently hazardous activities such as blasting or claims under premises liability. 

Conversely, negligence cases demand we prove a standard level of care breach, which could lead to wrongful death or personal injuries. Our trial lawyers meticulously develop strategies to showcase the failure in duty of care and link directly to the clients’ suffering and losses.

Here is our approach in these distinct service areas: 

  •   Personal Injury Claims: Custom-tailored strategies for each unique case  
  •   Workers’ Compensation: Thorough investigation and assertive representation  
  •   Wrongful Death: Compassionate yet rigorous pursuit of justice  
  •   Medical Malpractice: Proper analysis and tenacious courtroom advocacy  

We believe in a personal approach for each case we take on, ensuring meticulous testing and inspection of every claim detail. Whether you’re dealing with a keeper’s liability for animals or a complex product liability matter, our personal injury attorneys are poised to seek the maximum compensation on your behalf.

If you have faced an injury or loss and are considering legal action, we invite you to contact us today. Let us be the guardians of your legal rights and the advocates for the restitution you deserve. Call Buchanan, Williams & O’Brien, P.C. – because justice and full compensation are not just desirable, they’re your right.

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