Slate's Law Blog What is Strict Liability in a Personal Injury Claim?

Strict Liability - Product Defect Injuries

If you were injured recently in an accident or other type of incident, you should be considering your options for filing a personal injury lawsuit. Yet if you have never been involved in a personal injury claim in the past, the process can be confusing and complicated. If you have conducted some initial research into the topic of personal injury lawsuits, you have likely come across information about different theories of liability in personal injury cases, and references to both negligence and strict liability. What is the difference between these two theories of liability, and how do they apply in New Mexico personal injury cases?

Proving Negligence in a New Mexico Personal Injury Lawsuit

Most personal injury lawsuits in New Mexico will be brought under a theory of negligence. With negligence, New Mexico law makes clear that a party does not have to intend to cause harm in order to be liable for injuries, but rather that liability attaches when that party is negligent. In other words, in order to receive damages from a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit, an injured plaintiff does not have to prove that the defendant intended to cause an injury, but rather that the defendant’s negligent behavior or inaction resulted in the injury.

There are different ways to conceive of negligence, including careless or reckless behavior. Generally speaking, however, you can think of negligence as any type of behavior or inaction that is different from what a reasonable person would do under the same circumstances. For example, in a car accident lawsuit, an injury victim might file a personal injury claim against another driver and allege that the driver is liable because that driver’s decision to speed or to follow too closely amounted to negligence. Under the same circumstances, a reasonable person would have driven more slowly or would have left a greater following distance. Or, for instance, in a slip and fall accident, the injury victim might say that a business owner was negligent in failing to clean up a liquid spill in a store aisle. That injury victim might argue that a reasonable business owner would have cleaned up the spill to prevent injuries.

Strict Liability

While many personal injury lawsuits require the plaintiff to prove that the defendant was negligent, in some cases, the defendant may be strictly liable. In cases where strict liability attaches, the injury victim does not need to prove that the defendant was negligent. Instead, the injury victim only needs to prove that the defendant was in a particular position or is classified in such a way as to be liable. For example, under New Mexico law, product designers and manufacturers can be strictly liable for product defect injuries. Accordingly, if a consumer is injured by a defective product that has a manufacturing defect, the consumer does not need to prove that the manufacturer was negligent. Instead, the injury victim only needs to show that the manufacturer actually manufactured the product—that alone can be enough for the manufacturer to be liable.

Contact a New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer for Assistance

Do you have questions or concerns about how to prove liability in a personal injury lawsuit? One of the experienced Santa Fe personal injury attorneys at our firm can discuss your case with you today. Contact Slate Stern Law for more information.


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