What is Tort Law?

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What is Tort Law?

Tort law is that body of law which covers violations where one person’s behavior causes injury, suffering, unfair loss, or harm to another person.  This is a broad category of law that can include many different types of personal injury claims. 

Tort laws serve two basic, general purposes:  1) to compensate the victim for any losses caused by the defendant’s violations; and 2) to deter (discourage) the defendant from repeating the violation in the future.

How are Torts Classified?

Torts may be classified into three broad categories:

Torts are categorized under civil laws, rather than criminal laws.  This means that some torts may involve conduct that is not necessary illegal, but causes harm to another person.  However, some tort cases may involve an overlap with criminal laws (such as assault).

What are Some Examples of Torts?

Some common examples of torts include:

Probably the most common type of tort lawsuit is negligence.  In order to prove negligence, the victim needs to prove that the defendant breached a duty of care owed to them, and that the breach was the cause of their injuries or losses. 

For instance, if the defendant had a duty to keep their shop floor clean, but failed to do so, the plaintiff may be able to sue them if they were injured due to a slip on the dirty shop floor.

What are Some Common Remedies in a Tort Case?

Remedies in a tort case will of course be different depending on the type of violation involved, and depending on how the victim was injured or suffered losses.  Some common remedies in a tort case may include:

You should note that some tort cases may also allow the plaintiff to recover a “punitive damages” award.  This is an additional monetary damages award meant to punish the defendant for their conduct.  This can sometimes be a very high amount in comparison to the victim’s losses. 

However, punitive damages are usually issued only in connection with very offensive or damaging behavior by the defendant.  Some states may also place limits on punitive damages (such as up to two or three times the amount of economic losses).  

Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance With Tort Laws?

Tort law is a broad, comprehensive body of laws that can cover many different types of injuries and violations.  For this reason, tort law can also be very complicated.  Each state also has different tort laws of its own.  If you need assistance with the tort laws in your area, you should speak with a qualified lawyer.  Your attorney can help you with the legal research, and can represent you in court if you need to file a civil lawsuit.

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Last Modified: 12-31-2012 11:56 AM PST

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