When you are injured by someone else, whether in a car accident or by a criminal act, you may be entitled to compensation from them to cover your injuries. You will often need to prove they were negligent in some way. However, you could pursue a claim under strict liability in some cases. This legal theory seeks to hold people responsible for their actions regardless of their intent or negligence.
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Strict liability can apply in both the criminal law and civil law contexts. In the criminal law context, strict liability applies when someone commits a crime where their intent does not matter and is not an element that must be proven.
For example, statutory rape is a strict liability crime. Anyone over the age of 18 who has sex with someone under the age of 16 has violated this Florida law. Even if the person thought the younger person was over the age of consent, or the younger person consented to sexual activity, the individual is still in violation of the law.
Civil law is the area of law governing a situation where one party sues another for damages. Unlike criminal law, the state is not involved in prosecuting the at-fault party. It’s entirely up to you whether you bring a personal injury claim against another person for any injuries they may have caused you.
Strict liability in civil law applies in several areas. The first is product liability. Florida law allows consumers to sue manufacturers who suffered injuries by using a company’s product. To be eligible, you must have used the product in the way the manufacturer intended or in a reasonably foreseeable manner.
If you used your lawnmower to trim your bushes, for example, you probably would not be able to collect compensation. But if you were mowing your lawn when the lawnmower injured you, then you may be able to hold the manufacturer strictly liable for your injuries.
Another area of civil law where strict liability applies is when a dog bites a person. Under Florida law, you are not required to prove the dog’s owner was negligent in any way. If a dog bites you, the owner is strictly liable for your injuries simply because they own the dog.
There are other areas in Florida law where you may be able to hold someone strictly liable for injuries you have suffered, regardless of their negligence. That’s why it’s a good idea to speak with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible after you have suffered injuries.
Strict Liability Does Not Mean You Automatically Win
Just because someone is strictly liable for your injuries, whether through criminal or civil law, that does not mean they automatically owe you money. If a dog attacked you, for example, the dog’s owner could assert a defense that they’re not the dog’s real owner. They could argue that they recently sold the dog and the new owner is the one who should be strictly liable.
If you were injured by that lawnmower referenced above, the manufacturer could present evidence that you were using the lawnmower as a hedge trimmer and, therefore, at least partly liable for your injuries. Misusing the lawnmower could reduce or eliminate the manufacturer’s liability and responsibility to you.
While there can be a lot of back and forth between parties in a strict liability case, you still need evidence to prove your case. That’s why you should partner with an experienced and knowledgeable legal team.
Speak with a Lawyer Today
Your ability to collect compensation for your injuries can depend on the legal theory you use to hold someone else responsible. In Florida, you have many avenues, and a skilled personal injury attorney can help guide you through the complex process ahead.