Recently in this blog, we wrote about Connecticut’s comparative fault rule in personal injury cases involving motor vehicle accidents. Under this rule, an injured party who was partly at fault for the accident in which they were injured may recover compensation from another negligent party who shared fault for the accident. However, we noted an important limitations on the injured party’s legal right: They can only recover if they held no more than 50% of the fault for the accident. This is known as modified comparative negligence.
There is one type of personal injury case that presents an exception to this modified comparative negligence rule: Under Connecticut law, product liability lawsuits follow a different rule. The rule for product liability lawsuit is pure comparative negligence. This means people injured by a defective product can recover even if they hold more than 50% of the fault for the accident that injured them.
Strict liability and negligence
Product liability is a complex area of the law. Essentially, it provides a way for consumers to hold manufacturers and others liable for their damages after they have been injured by defective products. The state government supports this law because it discourages designers, manufacturers and sellers from bringing unsafe products to market.
If the injured party can show that the product was “unreasonably unsafe,” the court will apply strict liability. This means the plaintiff doesn’t have to go through the steps to prove that the other party acted negligently. So long as the other party marketed an “unreasonably unsafe” product, and that product injured the plaintiff, the defendants can be held liable.
If the plaintiff can’t prove that the product was “unreasonably unsafe,” they may be able to show that the defendants acted negligently in designing, manufacturing or marketing the product. This is where comparative negligence is important.
Imagine that you have been injured by your new snow blower. The court rules that you were partly responsible for your own injury, but the defendants were also negligent because they failed to provide adequate instructions. Because of the pure comparative negligence rule, you can hold the defendants liable even if the court rules that you were 60% responsible for the accident. However, your recovery will be reduced by 60%.