Personal Injury: Negligence vs. Strict Liability Cases

In many personal injury cases, victims base their claims on the assertion that the defendant negligently caused their harm – either through their negligent actions (such as running a red light), or their negligent inaction (such as failing to fix a potential hazard they knew or should have known about). Although most personal injury claims arise from negligence, there are cases when personal injury lawsuits are based not on negligence, but rather the legal concept of strict liability.

When it comes to protecting your rights as a victim and securing the financial compensation you need to cover your damages – including your medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and more – building a complete and accurate personal injury claim is of the utmost importance. Backed by decades of legal experience, our Reno personal injury lawyers at Joey Gilbert Law can help you do just that – whether your case involves negligence or strict liability.

Below, we discuss these two legal concepts, how they relate to personal injury, and the types of cases and accidents where they may apply.

Negligence Cases

Personal injury cases are typically hinged on proving how a defendant breached their legal duty. In most circumstances, this breach arises from negligence. Such breaches can take numerous forms, but generally involve negligent acts or inaction on the part of the defendant. Common examples include:

  • Car Accidents – All motorists have a legal duty to safely operate their vehicle, which means failures to uphold this duty typically arise from negligence. A motorist who drives drunk, drives distracted, or commits some type of traffic violation (i.e. running a red light) and causes a preventable car accident, therefore breaches their legal duty of safely operating their vehicle.
  • Slip and Fall Accidents – Under premises liability laws, property owners have legal obligations to ensure the safety of their property, and owe a duty of care to their visitors and guests. As such, they may breach this duty when they fail to remedy potential hazardous conditions on their property that they knew or should have known about, such as wet and slippery floors that lead to slip and fall accidents.
  • Medical Malpractice – Nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals owe a duty of care to the patients they treat, including a legal obligation to provide care that meets acceptable standards of their profession. Should they provide substandard care or commit mistakes no other reasonable medical professional would under the same or similar circumstances, they are breaching their legal duty, and victims can pursue medical malpractice claims based on this negligence.

Strict Liability

Strict liability is a different tort than negligence, and it can form the basis of a personal injury claim when certain circumstances apply. Generally, strict liability holds defendants responsible for injuries and damages victims suffer without victims having to prove their injury was caused them harm (as they must do in negligence cases). Common examples of personal injury cases where strict liability applies include:

  • Product Liability – Companies that make consumer products can be held liable for damages caused by defective and unsafe products, including products that are defectively designed, manufactured, or marketed. That’s because there is the assumption that had a defendant conformed to applicable laws, a consumer would not have suffered harm.
  • Dog Bites – Defendants who own dogs or other animals that attack and injure victims can be held strictly liable for their damages. Because strict liability is involved, victims do not have to prove that an owner’s carelessness or intent played a role.

Although these cases are a different tort than negligence, strict liability claims still require victims to prove they actually suffered real harm and losses just as they would in a negligence case.

Discuss Your Case & Rights During a Free Consultation

Proving all essential legal elements in a personal injury claim is vital to securing the compensation you need. Because doing so requires extensive preparation, investigation, and resources – as well as a keen understanding of the unique laws that may apply to the circumstances at hand – working with proven injury lawyers can make all the difference.

At Joey Gilbert Law, our Reno personal injury attorneys are available to help you better understand your right to compensation following preventable injuries, as well as how we can hold the at-fault party in your case liable. Contact us 24/7 for a FREE and confidential consultation.


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