Strict liability is a legal doctrine under which a defendant may be held liable for an injury even if the defendant was not negligent or at fault for causing the injury.
California law recognizes strict liability under two circumstances:
- When the defendant has manufactured, distributed or sold a defective product that injures you, or
- When a dog bites you in a public place or in a private place where you are not trespassing.
Are product manufacturers strictly liable for their defective products?
Yes. In California, product manufacturers are held strictly liable for:
- Designing inherently faulty products (“design defects”);
- Poorly manufacturing otherwise safe products (“manufacturing defects”); and
- Failing to warn consumers about the product’s dangers and risks (“warning defects”)
If you are injured by a defective product, you do not have to prove that your injuries resulted from the manufacturer’s mistakes. Instead, you need to show that your injuries resulted from you using the product in a “reasonably foreseeable” way that any consumer would.1
The statute of limitations for bringing a strict liability lawsuit against a product manufacturer is two years after your injury.2
Learn more about California product liability laws.
Are dog owners strictly liable if their dog bites me?
Yes. If you are bitten by a dog in California, you can sue the owner on strict liability grounds as long as:
- the bite occurred in a public place or a private location where you were allowed to be, and
- the bite was not in response to your provocation3
You have a two-year statute of limitations to sue the dog owner.4 Some owners’ homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policies cover personal injury claims involving dog bites.
Note that California does not follow the common law “one bite rule,” which makes owners liable only if the dog had a history of biting people.5
Also note that if a dog injured you but did not bite you, then you would instead sue the owner on negligence or negligence per se grounds instead of strict liability grounds.6
Learn more about California dog bite liability laws.
Why do I need a lawyer if the defendant is strictly liable?
Winning a case at trial or obtaining a favorable settlement still requires proving that you were injured and that the defendant was legally responsible for an injury.
In the product liability setting, this means proving that the product was defective when it left the defendant’s possession.7
In the context of a dog bite, it often means proving the animal was not provoked.8
Your lawyer may also be able to help you recover punitive damages if the defendant was reckless.
Injured by a dangerous product or animal? Call us for help…
If you’ve been hurt by a dangerous product or bitten by a dog in California, someone else may owe you money.
Call us to discuss your case with a knowledgeable California personal injury lawyer.