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 What Is a Tort?

A tort is the act of hurting another party, damaging them, or causing them harm. A person may inflict injury either intentionally or as a result of negligence or a violation of a strict liability statute. Some common types of tort claims include:

  • Slip and fall injuries
  • Assault and battery
  • Products liability
  • Premises liability

The word “tort” comes from the Latin word for “twist” or “disfigure.” Accordingly, tort claims often involve physical injury to the plaintiff, though they may involve other types of injury (such as economic loss). The main purpose of tort law is to compensate the victim for losses resulting from their injury. The most common form of tort action is negligence.

What Is Tort Law?

Tort law is defined as the body of rules governing harm, injuries, or losses caused by one person to another party. It generally covers injuries of a physical nature but may also include harm of different natures such as emotional distress, trespassing, or damage to one’s reputation. Typically, the party responsible for the injuries, called the tortfeasor, will have to pay monetary damages to cover their losses.

However, before the tortfeasor can be held responsible for damages, it usually needs to be proven that they are at fault somehow. A tortfeasor can become liable through an intentional act, such as an assault or a breach of duty.

What Types of Remedies are Available in a Tort Cause of Action?

In tort law, the main objective is to reimburse victims for losses caused by the defendant. In most tort lawsuits, the appropriate remedy is a monetary award calculated according to the degree of injury the plaintiff suffered.

Medical expenses, lost capabilities (such as the loss of a bodily function), and lost wages may all be included in monetary damages. The losses, however, must be directly related to the injury.

Injunctions are another type of remedy commonly associated with tort claims. A court order directing the plaintiff to stop their conduct or to perform a certain action is an injunction.

Injunctions are common in cases where monetary damages will not fully remedy the plaintiff’s losses. They are also common in nuisance-type claims, where the defendant’s repeated actions are the cause of the plaintiff’s losses.

What Is a Tort Law Alternative?

Tort law alternatives usually refer to something called “no-fault recovery.” As mentioned, tort claims are generally based on the tortfeasor’s liability. However, under no-fault alternatives, the ability of the victim to recover is based on factors other than the tortfeasor’s liability.

Two examples of no-fault recovery are no-fault auto insurance and strict liability. However, strict liability falls under tort law. Because of this, it is not really a “tort law alternative” in the same way that no-fault auto insurance is.

No-fault auto insurance is the most common alternative to tort law. In a no-fault insurance system, the injured party is actually restricted in their ability to sue the party that caused the accident. Except in very serious cases, the victim will not be able to seek compensation in court.
Each party’s insurance company will instead cover losses associated with the accident. An insurance company would raise premiums if a party were at fault in an accident. Not all states allow no-fault insurance for torts or car accidents. The recovery of damages for accidents occurring in such states is normally based on negligence.

No-Fault Insurance

A person who is at fault in a car accident is responsible for the other’s injuries or damages. However, liability laws determining who pays for damages in an auto accident differ from state to state.

Approximately half of the states in the United States have no-fault liability laws. No-fault laws presume that everyone involved in a car accident is liable for their own damages.

No-fault insurance reimburses insureds regardless of fault for losses caused by their own insurance company. Many states provide an exception to no-fault liability laws when a person sustains a serious injury or property damage that exceeds a certain amount. In contrast, states that have at-fault liability laws require the person who caused the accident to pay damages to all parties.

Special Rules for No-Fault Policy Holders

As stated above, no-fault insurance indemnifies insureds for losses by their own insurance company, regardless of fault. No-fault auto insurance, also known as personal injury protection, is available in half of the states.

Individuals who cause tort injuries in an accident are generally exempt from the usual liability if they cause the injury. The no-fault coverage covers bodily injury of the insured and the insured’s passengers caused by a car accident, regardless of which party would be held liable under traditional at-fault laws.

Injury liability claims and lawsuits are eliminated in no-fault insurance policies in exchange for direct payment by the injured person’s own insurance company for medical bills and lost wages, regardless of fault. Typically, no-fault coverage does not extend to vehicle damage; these claims are handled through a liability claim against the person at fault or through your own collision coverage.

No-Fault Insurance

Although some states still lack this beneficial insurance, no-fault insurance is mandatory in most states. It covers the medical expenses of you and your family, passengers in your vehicle, and pedestrians injured in an accident. The insurance pays out regardless of fault. No-fault policies do not cover property damage of any kind. Medical benefits are sometimes called Personal Injury Protection.

In mandatory no-fault states, pain and suffering claims are allowed for injuries that meet a certain threshold. The threshold amount varies by state. To qualify for relief, a claim must reach a certain dollar amount in states with monetary thresholds. For states with “verbal” thresholds, the injured party must demonstrate a normatively defined level of injury, such as “serious and permanent.”

Are There any Defenses Available in a Tort Lawsuit?

Consent is a common defense in tort suits. In other words, if the victim consented to the defendant’s conduct, they cannot recover their losses.

Self-defense is another common defense in a tort claim. A person may injure another out of self-defense. They may have a valid defense if they can prove they were attacked first.
In a tort lawsuit, several other types of defenses can be used. If you have questions regarding the various types of defenses to a tort, you may wish to consult with an attorney.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you have been injured in a tort, you may wish to consult with a tort lawyer. Even if you live in a no-fault state, you may need assistance filing your claim with an insurance company. Personal injury attorneys are equipped to handle no-fault insurance claims, as well as any disputes between parties or among insurance companies.

It is well worth your time to hire an attorney in tort cases. Torts may involve injuries, missed work time, medical bills, or emotional distress. In these cases, it is important to hire a tort lawyer experienced in the laws of your state. A tort lawyer will help you recover the compensation you deserve after being wronged. Do not try to deal with an insurance company or defense attorney on your own. Instead, use LegalMatch to find the right tort lawyer for your needs today.

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