The Seriousness of Harm Thesis for Abnormally Dangerous Activities
This chapter concerns the reasons given for finding activities abnormally dangerous and therefore subject to strict liability. Once again, risk predominates. As Justice Linde states: ‘Whether the danger is so great as to give rise to strict liability depends both on the probability and on the magnitude of the threatened harm’. According to the received view, either small probabilities of large harms or large probabilities of small harms suffice for strict liability. On this common view, whether an activity is subject to abnormally dangerous strict liability depends upon the magnitude of the expected disvalue – a function of both the probability of harm and the magnitude of the harm – that it imposes. The chapter argues that the magnitude of the loss is the major factor determining abnormally dangerous activities.
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