Understanding Strict Liability

Product Liability insurance

Negligence vs. defect

Strict Liability can be a difficult concept for some business owners to  grasp. But it’s important to know how it impacts their business and Product Liability Insurance.

First of all, with Strict Liability there is no burden of proof that negligence exists. Two things need proven:

  1. The product is the approximate cause of the bodily injury or property damage;
  2. The product defect is a result of a design defect, manufacturing defect, improper warning or improper instruction.

Additionally, plaintiffs filing a product liability lawsuit aren’t required to make a choice among design defect, manufacturing defect or failure to warn. They may elect to use all theories to support their case.

Where and why the responsibility lies where it does

Prior to 1963, injured parties bore the burden of proof that negligence existed in order to be compensated for their injuries.  But the  Strict Liability doctrine came into play after 1963.  As a result, the costs of injuries shifted to those who market the products:  the manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor and retailers.

The basic logic behind Strict Liability is that the manufacturers, distributors and retailers of a product that causes bodily injury or property damage are more responsible than the consumer. They’re in a better financial position  to accept the burden of making the injured party whole again.

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