Strict liability is a concept applied in both civil and criminal law that holds a defendant responsible for their actions regardless of their intent at the time of the action. A person is strictly liable merely by engaging in certain behaviors, regardless of their possible negligence or criminal intent. Strict liability is a theory that imposes legal responsibility for damages or injuries even if the person who was found strictly liable did not act with fault or negligence.
In tort cases, strict liability usually applies in three types of situations:
- Abnormally dangerous activities
- Dog bites
- Product liability
Certain activities are considered inherently dangerous. These are activities that involve serious potential harm, involve a high degree of risk that cannot be adequately protected against by using reasonable care and are not commonly performed in the community or under the circumstances. For example, it is not common to store explosives and flammable liquids in a city apartment. And while the tenant who is storing those items does not intend for them to ignite or injure anyone, when they do, that person could be held responsible for damages.
Under Missouri Revised Statute § 273.036, “the owner or possessor of any dog that bites, without provocation, any person while such person is on public property, or lawfully on private property, including the property of the owner or possessor of the dog, is strictly liable for damages suffered by persons bitten…” This means that strict liability applies even if the owner took reasonable care to restrain the dog or otherwise prevent the attack from occurring.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission states that defective products account for over 29 million injuries and 21,000 deaths each year. According to Missouri Revised Statute §537.760, you can make a strict liability claim if these conditions are true:
- The defendant was part of the product's chain of distribution.
- The product was used in a manner easily anticipated.
- One or both of the following:
- The product was in a defective condition that was unreasonably dangerous when the product was sold and your injuries are a direct result of that defect, and/or
- You were injured because there was a dangerous characteristic of the product and the labeling or instructions did not give adequate warning.
In summation, for strict liability you need to prove you were injured and that the other party’s animal, product or actions caused it.