Black’s Law Dictionary defines Strict Liability as liability without fault. A case falls under strict liability if “neither care nor negligence, neither good nor bad faith, neither knowledge nor ignorance will save the defendant.” In effect, strict liability establishes liability of the defendant independent of his fault, negligence, or intent after establishing certain facts required by law. It is a tort that can be committed even if the person exercised reasonable care and even if his state of mind was innocent.
Our laws punish the commission of certain acts regardless of whether there is intent to commit a wrong or a crime. For example, the mere driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) is considered a misdemeanor which is punishable regardless whether a person had no intent to commit a crime. In this instance, the mere act of driving while being intoxicated is already a crime.
Another example is the liability of manufacturers and sellers of products for damages resulting from defective products. In this instance, the law imposes the liability to manufacturers to ensure that they will take reasonable precaution in avoiding manufacturer defects or design defects in their products.
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One of the advantages of these laws is that for the consumers, strict liability protects them from products which do not pass a certain standard for quality. Manufacturers and sellers must bear the responsibility for the damage caused by their defective products to their consumers because they have the needed resources to anticipate the hazards and guard against the recurrence of these hazards. (Robert Grigsby 1) On the other hand, the consumers do not have the resources to anticipate the dangers and they are not prepared to meet the consequences of injury arising from defective products. Indeed, it is a serious misfortune for a consumer who is damaged by the defective product since it entails expenses, loss of time and health. In addition, it will be to the interest to the public to hold these manufacturers strictly liable for the defects in their products so as to discourage the marketing of defective products that are serious menace to the public. Another reason is that imposing strict liability against the manufacturers and sellers provides an effective and necessary incentive to them to make their products as safe as possible. It bears stressing that litigations arising from defective products are not only costly financially but also damaging to their goodwill and reputation. Thus, imposing this liability will encourage them even more to take extra precaution before a product is released in the market.
On the other hand, there are certain instances when imposing strict liability may be disadvantageous not only for the defendant but for each and everyone of us. For instance, when a wife accidentally kills her husband by serving him a bottle of insecticide which is stored inside a bottle of wine or a child accidentally burns a house in the process killing everyone who lives inside the house. These are instances where criminal intent, fault or negligence was not present. These are instances where the person responsible should not be punished. This is the foundation of our country’s criminal laws which is being observed in other countries. If the mind is not criminal then there is no crime, generally, unless there is fault, neglect in the commission of the act which is punishable under the criminal negligence provisions of the existing criminal laws. Thus, the concept of strict liability should not be applied in instances where criminal intent, or at least fault or negligence, are an indispensable element of the crime otherwise, it results in the possibility that everyone of us may be punished for the results of our action which is entirely not our fault.
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