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What is California’s “Strict Liability” Law?

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Posted By DAM Firm | September 5 2023 | Personal Injury, Product Liability

For the vast majority of personal injury claims that arise in California, it will be necessary to determine the liability of the alleged negligent party in order for the case to succeed. However, there is a legal doctrine known as “strict liability,” under which a defendant could be held liable for an injury or illness even if negligence did not play a role. Here, we want to discuss when the strict liability law in California applies to an injury claim.

What is California’s “Strict Liability” Law

Defective Products and Injuries

In the state of California, strict liability claims often apply to defective product incidents. Products can become defective in a number of ways, including design defects, manufacturing flaws, or issues with advertising or product labeling.

If a person sustains an injury due to a defective product, they will not have to go about the typical process of proving that the manufacturer was negligent. Instead, individuals will only need to show that they sustained injuries as a result of a defective product and that they were using the product in a way that was “reasonably foreseeable.” 

Individuals who sustain injuries as a result of a defective product must file their claim within two years from the date the injury occurs.

Dog Bite Claims

Strict liability also applies to most dog bite incidents in California. If an individual is bitten by a dog, they can often bring a strict liability claim against the dog’s owner, so long as:

  • The bite incident occurred in a public place or a private location where the victim had the right to be
  • The bite was not in response to any provocation by the victim

The strict liability rule is different from the “one bite rule” that is used in other states, where dog owners are only liable if the dog has a proven history of biting or aggression. It is important to point out that if a person is injured by a dog, but the dog did not bite them, then they would have to file a lawsuit against the dog owner and prove that the dog owner was negligent. This can happen if a dog knocks someone to the ground and the person sustains an injury.

Similar to defective product claims, a two-year statute of limitations also applies to dog bite incidents. We encourage individuals to file their claims as soon as possible and also remain cognizant of insurance carrier deadlines, which are often much shorter than the statute of limitations.

Working With an Attorney

If you or somebody you care about has sustained an injury as a result of a defective product or a dog bite incident, you may be able to recover compensation through a strict liability claim. However, even though strict liability claims may seem easier to win than claims revolving around proving negligence, that is not necessarily the case. Victims will still have to prove the individual elements required for a strict liability claim, and insurance carriers or at-fault parties are sure to push back.

When dealing with a dog bite claim or a product liability claim, an attorney will handle every aspect of the case. This includes gathering all of the needed evidence, initiating a claim, handling negotiations with other parties, and even moving forward to trial if necessary.

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