What is meant by strict liability?
Minneapolis personal injury lawyer Bill Sieben discusses how strict liability has changed over the years.
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Well, at the start of product liability law in the ‘60s it meant that if you have a defective product the manufacturer is liable. That’s kind of what we learned in law school, that the manufacturer is strictly liable, and that there were fewer defenses to that. That’s been chipped away, so there really isn’t strict liability anymore. There are a few instances where there is what’s called absolute liability and if you violate a statute you are absolutely liable and there are no defenses, there are few defenses to claims like that, but strict liability has really been merged into what’s called comparative fault now, where everybody’s fault is put on the table and a jury is asked to determine was the manufacturer at fault? Was a retailer or assembler at fault? Was an employer at fault? Was the employee at fault or the consumer at fault? So everybody’s fault is compared. So strict liability is still used to define product liability cases, but the law really works in such a way that everybody is in it, is in the case and can have a role in causing an injury. So strict liability isn’t how it works anymore. I wish it did.