Liability is the duty every citizen has to act in a manner that will not cause harm to any other individual. It is a legal accountability which dictates that no person may cause damage to another human being or their personal property through irresponsible actions or willful neglect. Failure to live up to this responsibility may result in a lawsuit or criminal charges being brought against the offending person or persons.
When any person comes to trial for a liability case, the prosecutor must prove that their actions caused harm intentionally, or that they did not take a reasonable course of action to prevent the harm from being done. In cases of strict liability, no proof needs to be established. Individuals who face cases of strict liability are automatically considered to be guilty of the charges. This occurs when the accused party willingly owns or uses any item that could be hazardous to others, including assault weapons, dangerous animals, or explosive materials.
Cases of negligence involve strict liability when a person or group does not take reasonable steps to prevent others from being harmed. Strict liability also applies in tort law cases, most often against companies that manufacture products that harm people in some way. The harm could be caused either by a design defect or by the corporation withholding an important warning, such as that their goods contain a hazardous material. When the companies that produced products containing the poisonous material asbestos did not notify the public is a prominent example of this type of case.
Another area commonly involving strict liability is traffic-related offenses. These include acts of negligence such as speeding or not stopping at a red light, and causing an accident as a result. Situations like these are covered by criminal law, but they also fall under the category of needlessly endangering others. The actions may not have been motivated by any malicious intent, but they did cause harm.