3 Ways A Defendant Might Be Liable In An Injury Case

When personal injury lawyers discuss taking on cases with potential clients, they need to figure out how the proposed defendant might be liable. Not all forms of liability are equal in the eyes of the law. As a prospective claimant, you need to have a general understanding of the forms of liability. These three are the most common ones.


A majority of cases under personal injury law focus on negligence. The legal notion of negligence begins with the idea that people and organizations must exercise some degree of caution if their actions could cause foreseeable harm to others.

Notably, there are two components. First, a party must be involved in activities that could cause harm to others. Second, the potential incident had to be foreseeable. Suppose a store elects to stock a high shelf with a very heavy toy. If that toy falls and hits a customer on the head, the store would likely be liable.

Why is that so? A normal person could easily predict a scenario where the heavy toy could fall and injure someone. You should note that negligence assumes the possibility the victim could also be partially liable. If an adult victim in the previous example was climbing the shelves to reach the toy, that fact would factor into the assessment. The victim's percentage contribution is subtracted from the damages calculation if they win.

Strict Liability

Another theory of personal injury law presupposes that certain activities are inherently dangerous. This concept is strict liability, and it covers many licensed professions. It also addresses owners of exotic animals if an attack happens.

When strict liability applies to a case, the only question is whether the defendant was responsible for the events leading to the victim's injuries. Suppose a mining company was blasting rock. If a piece flew two miles away and struck someone, the law doesn't usually care whether or not the company took sufficient precautions. The defendant did a thing, and that activity caused harm to another. Consequently, the defendant is entirely liable for the victim's injuries without regard to any other confounding factors.

Malice, Gross Negligence, and Wanton Disregard

Choosing to harm someone is arguably worse than neglecting something that then caused them harm. While people tend to lean on the criminal system to deal with malicious acts, a personal injury law firm may encourage you to seek civil damages.

Gross negligence and wanton disregard represent similar theories of liability. In these cases, someone knew about something dangerous. However, they either encouraged someone to do something anyhow or didn't stop them when they had the opportunity.

For more information, contact a personal injury law firm near you.