A tort is a legal term describing a violation where one person causes damage, injury, or harm to another person. The violation may result from intentional actions, a breach of duty as in negligence, or due to a violation of statutes.
The party that commits the tort is called the tortfeasor. A tortfeasor incurs tort liability, meaning that they will have to reimburse the victim for the harm that they caused them. In other words, the tortfeasor who is found to be “liable” or responsible for a person’s injuries will likely be required to pay damages.
Under most tort laws, the injury suffered by the plaintiff does not have to actually be physical. A tortfeasor may be required to pay damages for other types of harm, including emotional distress or a violation of personal rights. For a broader explanation of see the related article What is Tort Law?
Are There Different Types of Tort Liability?
Yes- liability in a tort situation can sometimes involve many different factors. For example, a tortfeasor may become liable to several different victims if they have injured a group of people.
Or, several different tortfeasors can be held liable for the injuries of a single victim, such as when a person is attacked by a group. It is even possible for the victim themselves to incur liability, for example if they contributed to their own injury apart from the tortfeasor’s actions.
Some other types of liability that are common in a tort setting include:
- Joint Liability: This is where several tortfeasors are held liable for a tort against one party. The tortfeasors are said to be “jointly liable” for the harm. How much each tortfeasor will be required to pay may depend on their individual degree of liability, as well as the rules for that particular jurisdiction
- Vicarious Liability: This is where a superior is held liable for the actions of their subordinates. For example, an employer who directs their employee to commit a tort during their work shift may be held liable for the harm caused by the employee.
- Liability to/for Third Parties: Third party interactions can also affect tort liability. Sometimes a person may be held liable for injuries sustained by a third party. For example, a landlord often has a duty not only to ensure that their tenants are free from harm on the premises, but also that third party visitors are safe as well. Or, sometimes a third party may be liable to the main parties in a contract.
- Plaintiff/victim Liability: If the victim actually contributed to their injury, they may actually share liability with the tortfeasor. This is often known as “contributory negligence,” and may result in the damages award being reduced or completely barred.
- Parent Liability: Parents may sometimes be held liable for the tortious actions of their children. This also varies according to jurisdiction and the type of tort involved.
- Strict Liability: Strict liability means that the tortfeasor may be held liable for a violation even if they did not intend to violate a statute. Examples of strict liability torts include transporting hazardous materials in an off-limits zone or harboring dangerous wild animals.
Thus, tort liability can take on many different forms depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident. In general, tort liability is associated with monetary awards, but some forms of liability may lead to other remedies (such as a restraining order or an injunction).
Tort Law in other States:
Do I Need a Lawyer to Help Determine Tort Liability?
As you can see, situations involving a tort can often be somewhat complex. It can often be the case that many different people are involved in a single incident. Each of these actors may have varying levels of liability with regards to the tort involved. You may wish to consult a personal injury lawyer if you are involved with a tort. Your lawyer can help sort out the different liabilities of each party that may be involved.