Should I Base a Personal Injury Lawsuit on a Theory of Negligence or Strict Liability?

When you have been injured as a result of another party’s careless behavior or intentional wrongdoing, or when you believe another party may be responsible for injuries you sustained, you should be thinking about the possibility of filing a personal injury lawsuit. Yet there are many different kinds of personal injury cases, and it can be difficult to understand the elements you will need to prove in order to win your case and obtain damages, as well as the theory of liability on which you should bring your lawsuit. Generally speaking, personal injury lawsuits will usually arise under one of two theories of liability: negligence or strict liability. How do you know if you should base your lawsuit on a theory of negligence or a strict liability?

An experienced Rochester personal injury attorney can help you to determine the theory of liability you should use in filing your lawsuit, as well as the specific elements you will need to prove in order to win your claim. In the meantime, we want to provide you with more information about how theories of liability might impact your personal injury lawsuit.

Strict Liability Applies Only in Limited Circumstances

In a personal injury case where a plaintiff can file a lawsuit on a theory of strict liability, the plaintiff does not need to prove that the defendant was negligent in any capacity or that the defendant intended to cause harm. Rather, as the Cornell Legal Information Institute explains, “strict liability exists when a defendant is liable for committing an action, regardless of what his/her intent or mental state was when committing the action.”

When a plaintiff can argue that the defendant is strictly liable for injuries, this is typically preferable since the plaintiff will not need to show that the defendant was reckless, careless, or otherwise negligent. However, strict liability is used only in a small number of personal injury cases. Generally speaking, you should only expect to be able to bring a strict liability claim for an injury caused by a product defect or from a dog bite involving a dangerous dog.

Plaintiffs Must Prove That the Defendant Was Negligent in Most Personal Injury Lawsuits

Outside product liability lawsuits and dog bite cases, most personal injury lawsuits will require a plaintiff to prove that the defendant was negligent in order to obtain financial compensation. While the specific elements of each type of personal injury lawsuit based on a theory of negligence will vary depending upon the particular facts, the general elements a plaintiff must prove include:

  • Duty of Care: Defendant owed you a duty of care
  • Breach: Defendant breached the duty of care by acting negligently
  • Causation: Defendant’s breach of the duty of care caused your injuries
  • Damages: You suffered an injury resulting in actual damages as a result of the defendant’s breach of the duty of care.
  • Our firm can discuss the ways in which you can prove the defendant’s negligence based on the type of personal injury lawsuit you plan to file and the specific facts surrounding your injury.

    Contact Our Rochester Personal Injury Attorneys for Assistance

    Whether you have questions about the distinction between strict liability and negligence, or you simply need assistance filing a personal injury claim and building the strongest possible case for compensation, our experienced Rochester personal injury lawyers are here to help. We have years of experience representing clients in a wide variety of personal injury lawsuits in New York and can begin working on your case today. Contact King Law to learn more about how we can assist you.


May 26, 2022

When Are Property Owners Responsible for Personal Injuries?
Read More

November 17, 2023

New York Passes Clean Slate Act
Read More

August 31, 2022

Answers to Your FAQs About Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Claim
Read More

August 25, 2022

4 Rules When You Get Pulled Over for DWI in New York
Read More