Strict liability

You can still be held responsible for damages, even if you didn’t mean it.


What is strict liability?

Strict liability is a legal concept that means if you do something that’s considered potentially risky, you can be held responsible for any damages or harm that happens because of it — even if you didn’t mean it or took all the precautions you could think of to prevent it.

Examples of strict liability

Situations that involve strict liability include:

  • If you make or sell defective products that cause harm because of design flaws, manufacturing defects or inadequate warnings.
  • If you deal with hazardous materials or chemicals that cause damage due to leaking or spills.
  • If you own or keep dangerous animals that escape and hurt someone.
  • If your employees cause harm or damage within the scope of their employment.

Strict liability rules and regulations vary by jurisdiction, so it’s important to consult local laws and legal experts for precise guidance in specific cases.

Strict liability vs negligence: What’s the difference?

Both of the concepts fall within the context of legal liability. The main difference comes down to whether the level of care you’ve exercised is relevant or not:

  • Strict liability is based on an activity’s or product’s inherent risks. You become liable merely by engaging in that activity or making that product, regardless of how much care you took or whether you intended to injure anyone.
  • Negligence is based on the failure to use reasonable care. If someone establishes that you did not act with the level of care that a reasonably sensible person would have exercised in similar situations, you become liable for the loss or harm caused.

This means that strict liability and negligence differ regarding how you can defend yourself and what situations each term applies to.


While defenses in strict liability cases are limited compared to negligence, some defenses may still apply. For example, you may have a defense if the harm resulted from unforeseeable circumstances or was not directly caused by the activity or product.

In negligence cases, people often use different defenses, like “contributory negligence,” which means that the person blaming you also caused the harm by being negligent, or “assumption of risk,” which means that the person accusing you knew the risk and still did it anyway.

Types of cases

Strict liability is often used in situations involving inherently dangerous activities or products, such as working with hazardous materials, dangerous animals, or defective products.

On the other hand, negligence can apply to a wide range of cases, including car accidents, slip and fall incidents, medical malpractice, and many others, where the main question is whether someone didn’t take reasonable care.

Liability insurance policies you can consider

Businesses that design, make or sell goods need solid liability insurance to protect them if they are sued under strict liability rules.

  • Product Liability insurance: This type of insurance is designed to protect manufacturers, distributors and sellers from legal claims arising from injuries or damages caused by defective products. Product liability insurance can help cover legal defense costs and any settlements or judgments.
  • Professional Liability insurance: Also known as errors and omissions insurance, this insurance coverage can help cover damages and legal fees if you’re held responsible for certain actions or omissions that result in harm to clients or third parties.
  • General Liability insurance: You can get protection against a wide range of liability claims, including those related to accidents, injuries and property damage.

Mitigate strict liability claims with NEXT

At NEXT, we’re 100% dedicated to small businesses and understand that each business is unique. That’s why we offer custom business insurance suited to your business needs.

Just answer a few questions online to give us the full rundown on your situation and receive your tailored instant quote within 10 minutes. Once you’ve bought insurance, you can access your certificate of insurance immediately and share it 24/7 via the NEXT app.

Start a free instant quote with NEXT.

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Business insurance is divided into different policies. We offer seven types so it's easy to design the coverage that fits your business.
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General Liability
Protect yourself from accidents that cause physical injury or damaged property.
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Shield yourself from lawsuits that claim your work errors caused financial losses.
Workers' Compensation Insurance
Workers’ Compensation
Cover medical bills and lost wages if your employees have an accident at work.
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Commercial Auto
Stay on the road with coverage for dents, tows and damage to someone else’s vehicle.
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Tools & Equipment
Upgrade your general liability coverage to protect any gear that’s stolen, damaged or lost.
Commercial Property Insurance
Commercial Property
Keep your building, inventory and equipment protected from fire or water damage.
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Business Owner’s Policy
Combine general liability and commercial property into one policy to protect your business.
* To the extent permitted by law, applicants are individually underwritten, not all applicants may qualify. Individual rates and savings vary and are subject to change. Discounts and savings are available where state laws and regulations allow, and may vary by state. Certain discounts apply to specific coverages only.
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Issuance of coverage is subject to underwriting. Not available in all states. Please see the policy for full terms, conditions and exclusions. Coverage examples are for illustrative purposes only. Your policy documents govern, terms and exclusions apply. Coverage is dependent on actual facts and circumstances giving rise to a claim. Next Insurance, Inc. and/or its affiliates is an insurance agency licensed to sell certain insurance products and may receive compensation from insurance companies for such sales. Policy obligations are the sole responsibility of the issuing insurance company. Refer to Legal Notices section for additional information.

Any starting prices or premiums represented before an actual customer quote are not guaranteed and are representations of existing premiums of active policies as of December 6, 2023. To the extent permitted by law, applicants are individually underwritten, not all applicants may qualify. Individual rates and savings vary and are subject to change. Discounts and savings are available where state laws and regulations allow, and may vary by state. Certain discounts apply to specific coverages only.