Tort law covers most civil suits. Apart from contractual disputes, which fall under contract law, anything handled in a civil court is considered tort law. If your property, dignity, or personal rights are violated, you can file a civil suit against the offender.
The aim of tort law is to ensure that an individual gets relief from a wrong done to them by others and that the violator is held liable for the injury or losses caused. Usually, the redress is done by awarding monetary damages to compensate for the wrongful acts, and sometimes punitive damages are added on top of compensation. Normal harms include loss of income (be it past or future income), payment of medical bills, or payment for suffering or pain.
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Continue reading this article to find out more about tort law.
Types of tort
There are three main types of torts: intentional, negligent and strict liability.
Intentional torts: assault, battery, false imprisonment and defamation
Intentional torts are actions that are intentionally committed and cause harm to another person. These torts include assault, battery, false imprisonment and defamation. There is also trespass, conversion and intentionally causing emotional distress.
- Assault occurs when someone intentionally causes another person to fear that they will be physically harmed. For example, if someone threatens to punch you, they have committed assault.
- Battery occurs when someone intentionally touches another person in a harmful or offensive manner. For example, if someone punches you, they have committed battery.
- False imprisonment occurs when someone intentionally confines another person against their will. For example, if someone locks you in a room without your consent, they have committed false imprisonment.
- Defamation occurs when someone makes a false statement that harms another person’s reputation. Defamation can be either spoken (slander) or written (libel).
- Trespass happens when someone intentionally walks into another person’s land uninvited or without the owner’s permission. It can be something as minor as children using it as a shortcut to get to school. However, police officers and postal workers are exempted as they have implied consent.
- Conversion is when someone wants payment for property taken without their consent and can’t get it back because it’s damaged, sold, altered or misused.
- When someone intentionally causes another person emotional distress, the victim has the right to sue under tort law. For example, if someone threatens future harm to a person, this is inflicting emotional distress.
Negligent torts: negligence, medical malpractice and product liability
Negligent torts are actions that are committed due to negligence or carelessness and cause harm to another person. These torts include negligence, medical malpractice and product liability.
- Negligence occurs when someone fails to take reasonable care and causes harm to another person. For example, if a driver runs a red light and causes an accident, they have committed negligence.
- Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider fails to provide the appropriate standard of care and causes harm to a patient. For example, if a surgeon operates on the wrong body part, they have committed medical malpractice.
- Product liability occurs when a defective product causes harm to a consumer. For example, if a car manufacturer fails to install airbags and a consumer is injured in an accident, they have committed product liability.
Some torts might be intentional, and for someone to be eligible to sue under negligent tort, one has to show that there is a violation of four tort elements (i.e., duty, breach of duty, causation and injury). One has to show without reasonable doubt that the defendant has a duty to the victim. One then has to clearly show how the breach of duty occurred and how it directly caused the particular incident to happen to the victim. Finally, it is necessary to show that the incident caused an injury to the victim.
Strict liability torts: product liability and animal attacks
Strict liability torts are actions that are committed without intent or negligence but still cause harm to another person. These torts help to prevent future harm. They include product liability and animal attacks.
- Product liability occurs when a defective product causes harm to a consumer, even if the manufacturer, packer or seller were not negligent. For example, if a toy manufacturer produces a toy with small parts that can choke a child, it has committed product liability.
- Animal attacks occur when an animal causes harm to another person, even if the owner was not negligent. It applies to both wild and domestic animals. For example, if a dog attacks a person, the owner can be held strictly liable for the damages.
How torts impact your personal injury case: burden of proof and damages
When pursuing a personal injury case, it’s important to understand how torts impact your case. In order to win your case, you must prove that the other party committed a tort and that their actions caused your injuries. The burden of proof is on the plaintiff to show that the defendant is liable for their damages.
The damages you can receive in a personal injury case depend on the type of tort that was committed. In intentional tort cases, you can receive compensation for both monetary and non-monetary damages. In negligent tort cases, you can receive compensation for monetary damages, such as medical bills and lost wages, as well as non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. In strict liability tort cases, you can receive compensation for monetary damages and some non-monetary damages.
Gathering evidence is crucial in a tort case. As the attorney, you will need to prove that the other party committed a tort and that their actions caused your injuries. Evidence can include witness statements, medical records, police reports and photographs. It’s important to gather evidence as soon as possible after the incident to ensure that it’s not lost or destroyed.
Defendants in tort cases often use common defenses to try to avoid liability. These defenses include contributory negligence, assumption of risk and comparative negligence. An attorney needs to be prepared to counter these defenses and prove that the defendant is liable for damages.
Personal injury cases can be complex and challenging, but understanding the different types of torts and how they impact your case can help you seek justice for injuries inflicted on your clients. When you’re an experienced tort law attorney, you can hold the responsible party accountable and help clients receive the compensation they deserve.