In New Jersey, there are many laws in place which govern how a person can be held accountable for the harm of another. The obvious laws that come to mind are those that prevent murder or assault. But in most of these cases, it is easy to determine fault because one person intentionally caused harm to another. In other cases, though, it is not so clear, which is how the concept of strict liability developed.
Strict liability can be applied to numerous instances. What it means is that a person has an absolute legal responsibility for an injury without having to prove intent or negligence. When one possesses a dangerous or exotic pet or a certain drug, one can be held strictly liable should this possession cause unprovoked harm to another.
When it comes to owning a pet, a person has a legal responsibility if the pet causes injury to another person or becomes aggressive. When you own that pet, you are assuming the risk that that pet could cause harm and you can be sued for damages. However, this can only happen if the incident occurred on public property or if the victim was legally on the private property of the owner. The owner may have to pay damages regardless of whether or not he or she knew that the pet had a tendency towards aggression.
It is also possible that an owner can be held liable if proved to have been negligent in failing to properly supervise, secure, or care for the animal. For example, a person can be held liable if his or her dog escapes an enclosure and runs into the street and causes an accident. These rules will not apply, though, if the pet was provoked into becoming aggressive or if the incident occurred as a result of the victim trespassing.
Other cases where strict liability can be used to prove someone responsible for another’s injuries can occur in instances of drug use. In these cases, the responsibility for someone dying or sustaining injuries from a drug falls on the person who provided the substance, namely, drug dealers or party hosts. The law that allows charges against the provider is known as the Strict Liability for Drug-Induced Death charge and can extend to criminal charges.
This law can turn what would be a strict liability charge into that of manslaughter or even homicide, on the basis that anyone who makes or distributes a drug can be held strictly liable for the death or injury of the person caused by the drug. It also prevents the defense of the accused to argue that the victim contributed to his or her own death or injury by purposefully and knowingly accepting a potentially dangerous substance.
Proving strict liability, in this case, requires the prosecution to demonstrate a clear connection between the victim and the defendant. The jury must decide whether the provider was distributing drugs with disregard for the value of a human life. If so, this person can usually be held strictly liable and charged.
In these strict liability cases, whether they be in a case regarding a drug overdose or a dog bite, proving intent is irrelevant and unnecessary. Strict liability assumes that simply by owning a dog or providing a drug that caused harm, that you are responsible for any resulting injury sustained.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury that was out of the victim’s control, someone may be held accountable. It is important to speak with an experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney to understand your rights and fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact one of our New Jersey personal injury lawyers who will handle your case with compassion and determination. For more information or to schedule a consultation, call 1-833-RINALDO.