What Is the Difference Between Negligence & Strict Liability?

February 25, 2022
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Most personal injury claims are founded on either negligence or strict liability. If you’re wondering what the biggest differences are between the two, read on:

What Constitutes Negligence?

Negligence is characterized by carelessness, which is a failure to act as any reasonable person might or should under the circumstances. Injured parties who file a claim on the grounds of negligence must prove the following four elements:

1. A Duty of Care

The party accused of being negligent must have owed the victim a duty of care. This duty might have been implied, or it might have been formally established.

Every motorist, for example, has an implied duty of care to those in traffic around them. When a patient visits a doctor in a clinical setting, on the other hand, it establishes a duty of care that wouldn’t otherwise exist.

2. A Breach of Duty

A breach of duty is essentially a deviation from the most appropriate or widely accepted behavior given the situation. Without a breach, there is no negligence.

3. Causation

For a claim founded on negligence to get off the ground, the breach must have been directly responsible for the injuries that the victim sustained. This is known as causation.

Sometimes, causation is fairly obvious. If you struck your left wrist on the dash in a car wreck, for example, and your injuries are consistent with the impact, your medical records may be enough to convince the insurance adjuster of causation.

There are scenarios, however, in which causation can be hard to prove. Medical malpractice claims are notorious for causation disputes, for example, because victims inevitably have preexisting conditions.

4. Damages

No matter how badly you were wronged, you won’t have grounds for legal action if you didn’t incur actual damages as a result. In South Carolina, recoverable damages include diminished quality of life, mental anguish, psychological trauma, medical bills, lost wages, and the cost of necessary replacement services.

What Is Strict Liability?

If you file a claim on the grounds of strict liability, you don’t have to prove how the opposing party was negligent. Under this legal doctrine, the liable party is automatically responsible for the damages that are causally related to the incident in question, even if they did not breach their duty of care or act with intent to harm.

It’s important to note that only certain kinds of claims can be filed on the grounds of strict liability in the state of South Carolina. The two most common examples are dog bite cases and defective product cases. For other kinds of accident scenarios, however, proving negligence or intent to harm is almost always a prerequisite to building a winning claim.

Discuss Your Case with a Personal Injury Lawyer in South Carolina

At Hodge & Langley Law Firm, we’re well-versed in both negligence and strict liability. We also have experience filing claims on the grounds of malice. In other words, no matter how you were hurt, we can help. Call 864-585-3873 or complete our Contact Form to set up a free initial consultation with a personal injury attorney in South Carolina.

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