What Is Meant by Strict Liability in Florida?
Bill Allen | August 8, 2023 | Personal Injury Questions
Most personal injury cases in Florida are based on negligence. A person is negligent when they fail to use the same care that a reasonable person would use in the same situation. A person can be held financially liable for damages they cause because of their negligent acts.
However, some personal injury cases can be based on strict liability. Strict liability does not require that you prove a person was negligent to hold them liable for a victim’s injuries and damages. You do not need to prove the person’s intent or mental state to recover compensation.
Strict liability applies in a small number of personal injury cases in Florida. Examples of strict liability claims include:
Dog Bites and Wild Animals
Florida is a strict liability state for dog bite injuries. A dog owner can be held strictly liable for the damages caused by a dog bite, even if the dog has never bitten anyone or shown aggression. Dogs in Florida are not given a one-time pass as in some states that adopted the one-bite rule.
Strict liability also applies in personal injury cases involving wild or exotic animals. Keeping wild and exotic animals can be dangerous. Therefore, the law holds owners strictly liable if their animals cause someone to suffer an injury, even if the owner took reasonable steps to prevent the harm..
Product Liability Claims
Many claims for defective product injuries are based on strict liability. A manufacturer, seller, or other party involved in creating and distributing the product could be held strictly liable for damages caused by a defect in the product.
Strict liability usually applies in cases involving manufacturing, design, and marketing defects. It may also apply in product liability cases involving a breach of warranty.
Abnormally Dangerous Activities
Some activities have an inherently higher risk of causing harm to someone, even though the party uses the highest level of care to avoid injuries. Strict liability applies in these personal injury cases. Abnormally dangerous activities are activities that most people would not normally engage in, such as transporting toxic materials, demolition, blasting, and mass use of poisons for pest control.
What Do You Need To Prove To Win a Strict Liability Case in Florida?
Proving strict liability claims usually requires that you have evidence to prove:
- You sustained an injury
- The defendant’s conduct or product caused your injury
- You sustained damages because of the injury
If the claim falls under strict liability, you should not have to prove fault. Fault is a primary element of a negligence claim. You must prove that the at-fault party did something wrong or should have been more careful.
With strict liability claims, fault does not apply. Merely proving that the other party did something that caused your injury is sufficient to hold them liable for damages.
Strict liability does not mean that there are no defenses the party can use to avoid liability. Therefore, it is crucial you work with an experienced lawyer who can present a solid case and prepare a response to defenses raised by the at-fault party.
What Types of Damages Are Available for Strict Liability Claims in Florida?
Personal injury victims with strict liability claims can receive the same types of compensatory damages that victims with negligence receive. You could receive compensation for your economic and non-economic damages, including:
- Lost wages and benefits
- Permanent impairments and disabilities
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Medical bills
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Diminished earning capacity
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- A decrease in quality of life
- Physical pain and suffering
- Long-term skilled care
- Property damage
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Punitive damages could also be awarded in some strict liability lawsuits. However, the burden of proof is higher for punitive damages than compensatory damages. You must prove the defendant’s conduct rose to the level of intentional misconduct or gross negligence.
An Ocala personal injury lawyer can help you document your damages for a strict liability claim. The evidence you need depends on your case, but the more detailed records and notes you have regarding your injuries and damages, the better your chance of receiving compensation for all losses and harm.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Strict Liability Personal Injury Claims in Florida?
The statute of limitations for filing a claim for strict liability is generally four years from the date of injury. However, if a wrongful death occurs, the deadline is two years from the date of death.
Exceptions to these rules change the filing deadline in some cases. Therefore, you should contact an Ocala personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an injury or accident. Missing the deadline could result in your case being dismissed.
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