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Negligence vs. Strict Liability in Cincinnati, Ohio and Northern Kentucky

Victims of Ohio and Kentucky personal injuries can recover compensation through negligence and strict liability lawsuits. In a negligence lawsuit, the plaintiff contends that the defendant’s negligence or recklessness caused their injuries. In a strict liability lawsuit, the defendant is liable for damages even if he or she was not negligent or at fault. Typically, courts apply strict liability when abnormally dangerous activities or conditions are involved.

If you’ve suffered a severe personal injury in Cincinnati, Dayton, or Northern Kentucky, you need the help of an experienced lawyer. At Jones Kahan Law, LLC, our skilled lawyers can help you determine whether you should bring a negligence claim or a strict liability claim. We will advocate strongly for your right to recover compensation against the person or company that caused your injuries. Contact our Cincinnati, Dayton, and Northern Kentucky personal injury law firm today to schedule your initial consultation.

Strict Liability and Negligence Are Two Different Legal Theories

In strict liability cases, the defendant is automatically responsible for damages caused by the defendant. The plaintiffs don’t need to prove that the defendant’s negligent or reckless behavior caused their injuries. Instead, they need only prove that a specific event happened to recover damages.

For example, in a strict liability dog bite case, the plaintiff only needs to prove that the dog bit him or her to recover compensation against the owner or handler. On the other hand, in negligence causes of action, the defendant must prove that the defendant failed to act as a reasonable person would act under the circumstances to recover compensation.

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Common Negligence Causes of Action

Most personal injury lawsuits rely on the legal theory of negligence. When a person fails to use reasonable care, and their actions or inaction results in an injury, they acted negligently. In most civil lawsuits, plaintiffs bring negligence lawsuits at the state court level. Plaintiffs who bring a negligence cause of action need to prove the following five elements:

  • The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care
  • The defendant breached his or her duty by failing to exercise reasonable care
  • The defendant’s negligence was the “in fact” cause of the injury
  • The defendant could have foreseen that his or her actions would cause injuries
  • The plaintiff suffered actual harm from the defendant’s negligence

Types of Negligence Causes of Action

There are several different types of negligence lawsuits, and they all have different requirements. Victims in car accidents file negligence causes of action and need to prove that the at-fault driver’s negligent or reckless driving caused the collision that resulted in their injuries. Medical malpractice lawsuits are also based on the legal concept of negligence. In medical malpractice cases, plaintiffs must prove that the doctor or other medical professional failed to use reasonable care when treating the patient.

Modified Comparative Negligence

Ohio uses a rule called modified comparative negligence for negligence lawsuits. The plaintiff’s percentage of fault will reduce the compensation that a successful plaintiff receives. For example, if a court determines that the plaintiff is 20 percent at fault for a car accident, and awards him $1 million in damages, they will reduce the damage amount by 20 percent.

In this case, the plaintiff will ultimately receive $800,000. However, if the court finds that the plaintiff is more than 50 percent at-fault for the accident, they cannot recover anything from the other negligent party or parties. At Jones Kahan Law, LLC, we understand how important it is to show that the defendant is at fault for your personal injuries. That’s why we conduct thorough investigations to gather evidence that proves the defendant’s negligence.

Strict Liability and Product Liability

One prominent example of strict liability involves product liability cases. When consumers suffer injuries due to an unsafe or defective product, they often try to bring their case using a strict liability theory. Succeeding with a strict liability theory requires less proof than when the plaintiff uses negligence as their legal theory.

The plaintiff must prove that the at-fault party should have reasonably anticipated that their product could have hurt a person in the customer’s position. Bystanders who are injured by a product and the customers who bought the defective product can bring a lawsuit under strict liability theories. Injured consumers can sue any business involved in the chain of distribution, including design companies, assembly plants, distributors, suppliers, and retailers.

Ohio’s Strict Liability Dog Bite Law

Another prominent example of strict liability is Ohio’s dog bite law. Under this law, a keeper, owner, or harborer of a dog is strictly liable for any injury, death, or property damage caused by their dog. The dog owner or keeper is strictly liable for any injuries and damage caused by the dog, whether or not the dog owner acted negligently.

While there are a few exceptions, the person who owned the dog or cared for the dog when the dog attacked the victim is automatically liable for the victim’s injuries. The plaintiff will only need to prove that the dog caused his or her injuries. There are only a few exceptions to this strict liability rule: when the victim was trespassing when the dog attacked, or when the victim abused or teased the dog before the attack.

Statutes of Limitations in Ohio

In Ohio, personal injury plaintiffs must submit their lawsuits within a specified period, called the statute of limitations. Plaintiffs who bring lawsuits under strict liability theories as well as negligent theories, they must file them within two years of the injury happening. However, plaintiffs who plan to bring medical malpractice lawsuits must do so within one year.

The cause of action doesn’t happen until the plaintiff discovered his or her injury, or should have discovered the injury. If you’ve suffered an injury, it’s essential to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. If you don’t file your lawsuit in time, you will lose your right to sue to recover compensation.