What is Strict Liability?

Strict liability is a legal theory under which defective product claims are often brought. A company or individual, such as a manufacturer, distributor, or seller, can be held strictly liable in these cases for harm caused by a product or activity that is inherently dangerous. Under strict liability, victims can pursue legal action without proving negligence or the at-fault party’s intent.

What is Strict Liability?

When is Strict Liability Applied?

Strict liability applies to three types of product defect cases in Nevada:

  • Manufacturing Defects: A defect that occurs during the manufacturing process, and as a result, the product either becomes contaminated, differs from the manufacturer’s intended specifications or design, or a single product differs from other units.
  • Design Defects: A product’s design is faulty, making it inherently and unreasonably dangerous. Meaning the benefits of using the product do not outweigh the risk of injury. As such, the product does not perform as safely as an average consumer would expect it to perform when used in a reasonably foreseeable manner.
  • Marketing Defect: The manufacturer, distributor, or seller failed to provide proper instructions for a product’s use or to warn of the risks associated with its use, although a typical consumer would not know about them

In addition to the manufacturer, distributor, and seller, Liability for a defective product can fall on any party involved in the product’s distribution chain—for example, a parts manufacturer, the party responsible for assembling or installing the product, the wholesaler, etc.

Proving Strict Liability

To hold a party responsible for a defective product under the legal theory of strict liability involves being able to prove the following:

  • The product is unreasonably dangerous.
  • The product’s defect directly caused your injury.
  • You suffered damages (e.g, injuries, financial losses, emotional distress).
  • The product was used as it was intended.

A product is only defective if it is not safe when used as intended, which can be challenging to prove. In addition, the evidence you must provide to establish a product is inherently dangerous will vary based on the type of defect you are alleging—manufacturing, design, or marketing.

For example, in manufacturing defect cases, you must demonstrate that the defect in the product was present when it left the manufacturer’s control. One way to do that is to show that the defect would be there if it were put together well, which means the issue is not with the design. In design defect cases, the courts often conduct a risk-utility analysis to determine whether the product was unsafe. The risk-utility test assesses a product’s risk compared to the benefits it provides. If the risks outweigh its use, the product may be deemed defective. In failure to warn or marketing defect cases, you must be able to prove the product lacked adequate warnings or didn’t come with instructions, leading to your injury.

Strict Liability Does Not Mean Absolute Liability

The burden of proof under strict liability is much less stringent than in a negligence claim, but that doesn’t mean a manufacturer, distributor, or seller will always be held responsible for a defective product. Unlike absolute liability, there are exceptions to strict liability, such as:

  • The plaintiff was at fault or didn’t use the product as intended.
  • Act of God: an event occurred beyond human activity.
  • A third party’s actions contributed to the accident, which could not be foreseen.
  • Consent of the plaintiff (assumption of risk)

As a result, injury victims will face many legal hurdles to hold a party strictly liable for a defective product successfully. If you or a loved one was injured due to a defective product, a Las Vegas defective product lawyer can help.