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Strict Liability versus Negligence in Product Liability Claims

Colburn Law

Each year, many people are injured by defective products. These dangerous items can cause serious injuries, from burns and broken bones to traumatic brain injury and terminal illnesses like cancer. 

Washington residents injured by defective products have the right to pursue lawsuits against the manufacturers that created them. If you plan on filing such a claim, it is important to understand the difference between strict liability and negligence.

What Is Negligence?

In many situations, we owe duties of care to certain people. For example, we have a responsibility to follow traffic laws and operate our vehicles safely when we are driving. If we own a property, we have a duty to keep our premises in safe condition and warn visitors of potential hazards.

Negligence refers to a person’s failure to uphold a certain duty of care. If someone runs a red light, for example, he breaches his duty to follow Washington traffic laws. If a landlord fails to repair broken stairs despite repeated requests from tenants, she fails to keep her property in safe condition. If you are hurt due to someone else’s negligence, you have the right to pursue a lawsuit against him or her and recover compensation for your losses. 

What Is Strict Liability?

What Is Strict Liability?

In some cases, negligence does not need to occur in order for a person or entity to be liable for someone else’s injuries. The theory of strict liability states that, under certain circumstances, a party is always liable for whatever injuries occur.

For example, Washington dog owners are strictly liable for any bites that their animals inflict. The dog does not need to have a history of violence. The owner does not have to act negligently. The victim can pursue a legal claim after being bitten by the animal while in public or lawfully on private property.

How to Prove a Washington Product Liability Lawsuit

Unlike other types of claims, product liability lawsuits do not rely on the theory of negligence. Instead, manufacturers are strictly liable for any injuries that arise due to defective products. You will need to prove the following four facts in order to secure compensation in a product liability claim.

  • First, you will need to show that you were injured or suffered losses. You can use documents like medical records and journal entries to prove the nature of your injuries.
  • Next, you will need to show that the product is defective in its design, manufacturing, or warnings and instructions. Testimony from expert witnesses, scientific evidence, and many other pieces of evidence to establish the defect.
  • Then, you will need to show that the product defect caused your injuries and losses. Medical records, expert witness testimony, and photographs and videos from the scene of the accident can help prove causation.
  • Finally, you will need to prove that you were using the product as the manufacturer intended. If you were misusing the item, you are not eligible for compensation following a defective product injury. 

Proving a defective product lawsuit can be complex, but hiring a lawyer can help. A Washington product liability attorney has the skills, experience, and legal knowledge necessary to guide you through each stage of litigation and craft a compelling case in your favor. 

As soon as possible following the incident, contact an attorney to discuss your lawsuit and strategize your optimal path to recovery.