What is the difference between a negligence claim and a strict liability claim?

In a products liability negligence claim, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant did not exercise the proper degree of care when manufacturing or otherwise providing the product to the consumer. Everyone in the chain of distribution must exercise reasonable care, including the designer, the manufacturer, and the seller. The duty is owed to anyone who is likely to be injured by the product if it is defective, including the initial purchaser, his or her family members, bystanders, and persons who lease the product or hold it for the purchaser.

The duty of care includes the duty to make adequate inspections during product manufacture, the duty to use proper packaging, and the duty to issue adequate instructions and warnings. If any of these duties is breached and someone is injured, the consumer or other injured parties can bring a claim based on negligence.

In a strict liability case, on the other hand, the plaintiff need not prove any violation of the standard of care. Under this theory, the defendant is responsible for any defects in its products that threaten the safety of a consumer’s person or property, even if it exercised care in handling the product and even if the plaintiff had no direct dealings with the defendant, such as when the consumer bought the product from someone other than the defendant. Strict liability applies when the defendant is engaged in the business of selling the product that caused the injury, and the product is expected to and does reach the consumer without a substantial change in the condition in which it was sold.