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A Basic Overview of Strict Liability

One of our goals at APEX Law Firm is to educate readers so that they can better understand certain legal concepts. We want our readers to be able to navigate the legal system successfully, and gaining more knowledge of legal concepts can assist in this area because many areas of law require a good bit of effort in order to fully grasp. Civil liability is one area which can be elusive to the typical layperson. In this post, we’re going to provide an overview of one important topic in civil liability: strict liability.

Of note, strict liability also applies in criminal law as well. But, for the the purpose of this article, we’re going to confine the discussion to strict liability within civil law.

Liability is a Layered System

Before discussing the essential points of strict liability, it’s important to understand liability in general. Readers should take note of the fact that liability is a layered system in the sense that defendants can owe different levels of care to plaintiffs depending on the circumstances. In other words, liability is something which is very much context-dependent. In one scenario, for instance, someone may be owed a certain duty of care and may assume essentially no risk; this might happen if a person walks into a supermarket or convenience store and has a “slip and fall” accident. The store has a duty to keep its aisles clear and free of hazards and cannot rely on the customer’s assumption of risk without proper warning.  In other situations, however, a plaintiff might assume a certain level of risk, such as a person who gets accidentally struck by an errant golf ball while voluntarily playing golf. The owner of the golf course will likely not be liable because the golfer assumes the risk by choosing to play that course.

The key thing to remember is that liability is almost never “absolute,” but depends heavily on the particular facts of a given situation.

Strict Liability Disregards Intent

In essence, strict liability is a theory which assigns liability without regard for the intentions or mental state of the defendant. In other words, if a defendant were held strictly liable, then he or she would be responsible for damages even though no fault or negligence occurred. The idea behind this theory is that the activities covered by strict liability are inherently dangerous, and so there is basically no need to apply any sort of fault or negligence analysis. Or, strict liability can also be applied to situations in which the defendant should always do whatever is necessary to prevent harm, even in those situations which aren’t inherently dangerous (such as harm caused by a domesticated pet).

Common Example of Strict Liability

Many strict liability situations are derived from statutes. One of the most common instances in which strict liability is applied is in cases involving harm caused by pets. In Connecticut, C.G.S. § 22-357 imposes liability on a dog’s owner or keeper for injuries caused by the dog to someone else’s person or property. This is a strict liability statute, so it does not require the victim to prove that the dog’s owner or keeper knew that the dog was vicious or was negligent in any way.

A person injured by a dog could also proceed under a negligence theory by proving that the dog owner or keeper knew that the dog was vicious and did not take appropriate steps to prevent the harm. In certain cases, third parties (such as landlords) can be held liable if it can be shown that the party knew about the dog’s propensity to cause harm and did nothing to alleviate the danger.

There are defenses to strict liability situations as well. In the dog bite example, if the dog owner was able to prove that the person harmed was antagonizing the dog or provoked the dog to attack, he or she may not be liable for the damage.

Contact Apex Law Firm for Additional Information

This is just a very basic overview of strict liability as a useful introduction. If you’ve been harmed and you think the theory of strict liability may apply, contact Apex Law Firm right away. If you’ve suffered an injury from a dog bite, a defective product, or other similar cause, don’t hesitate to contact us today. Call us at 860-385-8360 or email us at info@apexlawfirmct.com.

Dog bite claims in Connecticut

Many of us that own pets consider our animals family members. However, in some instances animals (usually dogs) may lack proper training and in a heated moment could end up biting someone. Dog bites are very serious injuries and require immediate medical attention. This brings obvious pain and suffering to the bite victim and can be extremely embarrassing for the owner of the animal. Sadly these situations often result in the animal being put down. It must be understood that if the dog’s behavior is absolutely too severe to be treated, the only options that remain are confinement or euthanasia.

If you are the victim of a dog bite, you may be unsure of which direction to turn. You may wonder if you did something to provoke the situation. You may be afraid to bring action because dog belongs to someone you know and the pet may be put down. Of course the owner will be upset over losing their pet, but you had to bear both physical and mental scars which take a long time to heal.

There are some facts that must be considered after you have evaluated your injuries and the incident if you are thinking of suing the owner of the dog for emotional and physical damages. The dog bite statute C.G.S. § 22-357 states that the owner or keeper of the dog is held liable if such an event occurs. Dog bites are ruled by strict liability, meaning the owner or keeper is liable regardless of whether or not he or she could have prevented the event. If you are bit, you have a substantial chance to receive compensation unless at the time you were: 1) teasing, tormenting or abusing the dog; or 2) trespassing or breaking another type of common law.

The Statute of Limitations is a set a deadline on filing an injury related lawsuit in the civil courts. In most cases in Connecticut, a person has two years to file a case in court unless they are in a coma or any other critical injury which prevents them from filing a claim. If you miss this deadline, there is a high chance that the court will dismiss your claim and prevent you from collecting a reward. We suggest that any injured individual seek the advice of an attorney to learn how the deadline applies to your particular case.

The best way to handle a dog bite claim is to contact our personal injury lawyers for a free consultation today.