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Contract and Tort Law

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What is Contract Law? What is Tort Law?

Within civil law (as opposed to criminal law), the branches of contract law and tort law have several differences as well as similarities with one another. This interrelationship is most attributed to the evaluation of damages within contract and tort cases.

In its simplest form, contract law imposes duties on parties who enter into an agreement (contractual relationship. Within this agreement, both parties are expected to act reasonably toward one another (referred to as vis-à-vis).

If either party breaches their duty to perform what is outlined in the contract, contract law aims to provide damages to the injured party. Typically, damages are awarded with the intent to restore the injured party to where they were before the breach occurred, or as if the contract had been performed.

Under tort law, members of a community are expected to act reasonably toward everyone else within the community. Tort law is based on the premise that people are liable for their actions.

If someone’s careless actions injure another person, they may face consequences—whether their actions were intentional or accidental. Tort law aims to compensate victims for any injuries or damages suffered by the unreasonable acts of others.

What are Some Similarities Between Tort Law and Contract Law?

Very simply, tort laws and contract laws are in place to address a breach of duty that results in an injured party. In contract law, a breach of duty involves the failure to adhere to what is named in a contract.

In tort law, a breach of duty involves the failure of one party’s duty to not harm another. Both branches of law provide damages to the victim.

What are the Differences Between Contract and Tort Law?

A distinct difference between contract and tort laws lies in the issue of consent. In contract law, both parties must enter an agreement knowingly and without coercion.

Each party must consent to the contract and its outcomes. In tort law, the interaction between the parties is not based on consent. Usually, torts occur by the intrusion of one party to another that results in some type of harm.

Courts will award damages in a contract case to restore the injured party to where they were before the breach occurred. In a tort case, a court will award damages to compensate the victim for their loss.

Another difference between the two branches of law, is that punitive damages are sometimes awarded in tort cases, whereas they are rarely awarded in breach of contract cases.

Can a Person File a Contract Claim and a Tort Claim in the Same Lawsuit?

In some cases, a tort claim and contract claim will be included within the same lawsuit. However, due to the differences between torts and contracts, these cases are not as common as those where both claims are filed separately.

If you have a case where there was a breach of duty in a contract, and a tort claim is tightly related to the subject matter of the contract, it may be possible to file the claims concurrently.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Issues with Contract Law and Tort Law?

If you are dealing with issues regarding contract law, tort law, or both, you should speak with a business lawyer. Your attorney can provide further guidance on your case, and help you file the appropriate claims for your legal matters. If you decide to file a lawsuit, your lawyer will also represent your best interests in court.

Photo of page author Sarah Tipton

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 07-25-2018 08:36 PM PDT

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