Liability is being legally responsible for something. In a personal injury case, being liable means you are responsible for the victim’s damages. A person can be held liable for their actions or inactions. In some cases, a party could be liable for the actions of people or animals for which they are responsible.
Many personal injury claims in California are based on negligence. Negligence is failing to take reasonable care. That failure results in harm or injury to someone.
However, some personal injury cases do not require you to prove negligence. The at-fault party can be held strictly liable for the injuries their actions cause. Strict liability can apply in several types of personal injury cases in California.
Strict Liability for California Product Liability Claims
Manufacturers, designers, distributors, and other parties can be held strictly liable for damages caused by defective products. Generally, you must prove that the party:
- Designed, manufactured, distributed, or sold the defective product;
- The product had a defect or inadequate warning that caused the product to be dangerous to use;
- You used the product for its intended use or in a reasonable manner;
- The defect was the direct and proximate cause of your injury; and,
- You sustained damages because of the defective product.
There are three types of product liability claims covered by strict liability. Design defects occur when a flaw in a product’s design makes the product inherently dangerous to use or the design outweighs the benefits of the design.
A manufacturing defect occurs when the manufacturing process differs from the design, and the differences cause a defect. An example would be using inferior materials to manufacture the product. The defect may occur only in a portion of the products manufactured, such as a contaminated batch of medication.
A product might be defective if the manufacturer fails to include adequate instructions for the product’s use or fails to adequately warn consumers of potential risks. If the failure to warn or provide instructions causes an injury, the at-fault party could be held strictly liable.
Strict Liability for California Dog Bite Claims
California law imposes strict liability laws for some dog bite cases. The law makes a dog owner strictly liable for damages if:
- The dog bite occurs in a public place; OR;
- The person is bitten while lawfully on private property, including the dog owner’s property.
The dog owner is liable for the attack even if the dog has never displayed any vicious or aggressive behavior. The law does not require the dog owner to know about a dog’s viciousness to be held strictly liable for a dog attack.
There are some exceptions to the strict liability for dog bites in California. The strict liability law does not protect trespassers. Also, if the victim antagonizes the dog, the victim could have some liability for their injuries.
What Damages Are Available for Strict Liability Claims in California?
If someone with strict liability for damages injures you, you can receive reimbursement for the economic damages you sustain. Examples of financial damages include:
- Past and future medical bills
- Skilled nursing care
- Rehabilitative care
- Lost wages and benefits
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Personal care
- Household services
- Diminished earning capacity
In addition to your financial losses, you can also recover compensation for non-economic damages. These damages include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Impairments and disabling conditions
- Emotional distress
- A decrease in quality of life
In some cases, the jury might award punitive damages. Punitive damages do not compensate the victim for losses. The damages are intended to “punish” the at-fault party for fraud, malice, or oppression and are only awarded in a few cases.
Even though strict liability might apply in your case, you still have the burden of proof to recover damages. You must prove all legal elements required to establish strict liability. Therefore, working with an experienced personal injury lawyer can increase your chance of receiving fair compensation for your claim.
Deadlines for Filing Strict Liability Injury Claims in California
The statute of limitations for most product liability and dog bite claims is two years from the date of injury. However, exceptions to the statute of limitations could change the deadline. Talk with our Vista personal injury attorneys as soon as possible after a personal injury or accident.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Vista Personal Injury Lawyers
Our legal team works to recover maximum compensation for your personal injury claim. Contact us today at Petrov Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced Vista personal injury attorney, call (619) 344-0360. You do not have to fight the insurance company or at-fault party for the money you deserve on your own.