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What is Strict Liability in A Maryland Personal Injury Case?


In most Maryland personal injury cases, an injured party must show that they were injured because of another’s negligence.  In proving negligence, the plaintiff must show that the defendant breached a duty of care.  In other cases, strict liability rules apply.

In a strict liability case in Maryland, the plaintiff does not need to prove that the defendant was negligent to recover damages.  Instead, strict liability involves the breach of an absolute duty to keep someone safe.  This standard is only applied in particular circumstances because of the high burden on the defendant.

Succeeding in strict liability cases can still be very difficult.  If you have been injured in a case that involves strict liability, seek help from our experienced Maryland personal injury lawyers by calling Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291.

Definition of Strict Liability in Maryland

Strict liability applies to cases where liability is imposed for violations regardless of the defendant’s intent or care.  Defendants in strict liability cases will be responsible for damages they cause even if they were not acting negligently or intentionally.  The premise of strict liability serves to maintain safety in high-risk environments by encouraging manufacturers, employers, and other parties to prevent injuries.  Although, strict liability only applies in certain circumstances.

Strict Liability for Defective Products in Maryland

A products liability case will seek to hold manufacturers responsible for injuries caused by their defective products.  By holding manufacturers accountable, products liability laws will encourage businesses to ensure that their products are safe.  Strict liability can be applied in products liability cases in Maryland when all of the following conditions are met:

  • The product was in a defective condition at the time it left the possession or control of the seller.
  • The defect was unreasonably dangerous to the user or consumer.
  • The defect was the cause of the injuries.
  • The product was expected to and did reach the consumer without substantial change in its condition.

Furthermore, there are three different ways in which a product defect can manifest under strict liability:

  1. A defect in the manufacturing process can render a product unsafe.
  2. Second, a flawed product design can make a product unreasonably dangerous.
  3. Lastly, a failure to provide adequate warnings or instructions for use of a product can also result in a strict liability case.

Proving strict products liability in Maryland is difficult and often involves gathering extensive evidence.   Additionally, defendants in products liability cases are often large companies with an enormous amount of resources at their disposal.  A Baltimore personal injury lawyer can help a victim’s chances of succeeding in a defective products case involving strict liability.

Strict Liability with Abnormally Dangerous Activities in Maryland

Maryland courts also recognize the doctrine of strict liability for things considered “abnormally dangerous activities.”  Accordingly, people committing abnormally dangerous acts that harm other people, land, or possessions may be held liable under the doctrine of strict liability.

A hazard does not have to spill over beyond the defendant’s property line to injure someone.  Many abnormally dangerous activities within the bounds of the defendant’s property line can still lead to an injury lawsuit.  The main requirement for these lawsuits is that the dangerous activity did indeed result in an injury.  Maryland courts take the following factors into consideration when determining whether an activity was abnormally dangerous:

  • Whether the activity involves a high degree of risk of some harm to another individual’s person, land, or possessions.
  • Whether the gravity of harm which may result from the activity is likely to be great.
  • Whether the risk cannot be eliminated by the exercise of reasonable care
  • Whether the activity is not a matter of common usage
  • Whether the activity is inappropriate to the place where it is carried on
  • The value of the activity to the community

Accordingly, there are numerous factors to balance and consider when determining whether harm occurred because of an abnormally dangerous activity.  An experienced, Aberdeen personal injury lawyer will be able to accurately weigh these factors and determine whether a strict liability claim is available.

Strict Liability in Maryland Dog Bite Cases

Maryland extends the doctrine of strict liability to dog bite cases.  This means that if someone sues over a dog bite, they will not need to prove negligence on behalf of the pet owner.  Further, they do not have to prove that the pet owner knew or should have known their dog was aggressive.

The issue of strict liability in Maryland dog bite cases may also extend to cases where people were tripped, pushed, or knocked over by dogs.  Dogs can cause serious injuries by running into peoples’ legs.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 76,000 people per year visit emergency rooms because of non-bite dog injuries like falls.  These injuries include damage to the pelvis, back, neck, or brain.  Furthermore, fatalities from dog attacks can occur.  Research has shown that most dog attack fatalities involve people who are under the age of 10 or over 65 and are unable to fend off a dog.

However, even under strict liability, there are defenses to dog bite cases in Maryland.  You may be able to prove that a victim to a dog bite contributed to their injury under Maryland’s dog bite statute.  Generally, if someone can prove that an injured party contributed even 1% to their own dog bite injury, the victim can’t receive compensation.  The following are some examples of defenses in Maryland dog bite cases.

  • The injured person was taunting the dog, inciting it to bite.
  • The injured person was trespassing on your property when the dog bit them.

Furthermore, there is another defense to dog bite cases under Maryland law: dog owners may refute the presumption that they knew or should have known that their dog was prone to vicious or dangerous behavior.

Accordingly, dog attack cases involving strict liability in Maryland can be lengthy and complex.  After being injured in a dog attack, a Dundalk personal injury lawyer can review the case and determine if the victim is owed compensation.

If You Have Been Injured in A Maryland Personal Injury Case Involving Strict Liability, Our Lawyers Can Help

If you have been injured in Maryland and want to know if you can recover under the doctrine of strict liability, contact experienced, Ocean City personal injury lawyers by calling Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 for a free case review.