What's a Tort, Anyway?

what-tort

Tort law is defined as a civil wrong that can be atoned by awarding compensation for resulting damages. A civil wrong is legally recognized as a basis to file a lawsuit because it causes a considerable amount of harm to the victim. Although there are torts which constitute jail time, the main goal of tort law is to offer some level of reprieve for the infliction the victim has endured and dissuade others from making the same mistakes.

Normally, the injured person will sue for financial damages. Damages that the victim usually seeks to recover include lost wages, pain and suffering, and medical expenses (within reason). Each of these accounts for current and future anticipated losses.

The various types of torts are:

  • Trespassing
  • Assault and battery
  • Negligence
  • Product liability
  • Deliberate infliction of emotional distress

Torts fall under three distinct categories:

  • Intentional tort – any wrongdoing that the perpetrator was aware or should have been aware would result from their choice of behavior. (e.g., striking a person with a fist)
  • Negligent tort – occurs when the perpetrator fails to take the necessary precaution to keep a victim out of harm’s way. (e.g., causing an auto accident by running a red light)
  • Strict liability tort – is not reliant upon the extent of care exhibited by the perpetrator, but it is dependent on when a certain action causes harm. (e.g., manufacturing and selling defective merchandise)

Tort law, which differs by state, is established by court judges (i.e. common law) and legislatures (i.e. statutory law). Numerous judges and states refer to the Restatement of Torts (2nd Edition) as a guide. This publication was put together by the American Law Institute for the purpose of making a commonsensical reference of general national laws available to the general public. If you would like to have a better understanding of tort law, our personal injury lawyers can answer your questions.

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