This is an extract of our Strict Liability document, which we sell as part of our Torts Outlines collection written by the top tier of University Of Michigan Law School students.
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Strict liability is imposed on D's for engaging in certain types of behavior which the law does not see as susceptible to the exercise of "reasonable care." If someone is injured by such an activity, the actor is automatically liable. a. Generally The prima facie case of strict liability is as follows:?(1) The nature of D's activity imposes an absolute duty to make it safe. (2) The dangerous aspect of the activity is the actual and proximate cause of P's injury. (3) P suffered an injury as a result of the dangerous aspect. i. Abnormally Dangerous Activities
A D will be held strictly liable for injuries to others caused by an abnormally dangerous activity. The test is as follows:?
(1) The activity creates a foreseeable risk of serious harm, even when all parties exercise reasonable care; and (2) The activity is not a matter of common usage in the community.
POLICY: Common activities are those which we can assume are valuable to the community at large, otherwise they wouldn't be common. Many such activities (e.g., driving) create foreseeable risks of serious harm, but the benefits of allowing them to proceed clearly outweigh the costs to society. With abnormal activities, however, it is more likely the activity is of little value to the community, only to the actor. Thus the actor imposes a risk on society disproportionate to the benefit created. ii. Extent of Liability?In strict liability, liability falls upon the head of the party engaging in the activity. Scope of Duty: o To Whom? In strict liability, the duty extends only to foreseeable plaintiffs (most jurisdictions). o Which Injuries? To be held strictly liable, the injury must be of a type naturally associated with the dangerous activity. Proximate Cause: The majority view is that the same rules of causation govern strict liability as negligence. D's liability may be cut off by intervening or superseding causes. iii. Defenses to Strict Liability?Contributory Negligence: Generally speaking, D cannot defend by arguing that P failed his duty to guard against the danger created by D's hazardous activity. Assumption of Risk: AOR is permitted as a defense to strict liability. If P knew of the danger and he unreasonably chose to expose himself to it, D may have a defense. Comparative Negligence: MOST jurisdictions allow assigning comparative fault in strict liability. iv. Economic Considerations in SL
Economically, imposing SL functions to:?Deter conduct the dangers of which outweigh the benefits; Force actors to internalize the external costs of their activities; and Channel those costs to injured parties as compensation, instead of allowing Ds to deflect liability by making reasonable investments in precautions.
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