Tort Cases Legal Definition

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 What are Torts Cases?

Torts are wrongful acts or infringements of rights, other than those under contracts, which result in civil liability. Tort laws are laws which allow individuals to sue other individuals or companies to obtain compensation for injuries or harm that were suffered.

This process is a part of personal injury law. A tort case serves two basic purposes, including:

  • Permitting a victim, known as a plaintiff, to obtain compensation for losses which were caused by the defendant, who is the individual being sued; and
  • Deterring the defendant from repeating the same behavior which caused harm to the plaintiff.
  • Tort lawsuits are the legal processes by which the plaintiff files a complaint, presents their case in court, and obtains compensation for their injuries.

Can Someone Go to Prison if They are Found Liable in a Torts Case?

No, an individual cannot go to prison if they are found liable in a tort case. This is because tort cases are distinct from criminal cases.

This means that defendants in tort cases cannot face incarceration for their liability. Instead, the court will typically order a defendant to pay monetary damages, or money, to the plaintiff.

What Type of Tort Cases are There?

Tort cases, which are also referred to a civil lawsuits, are classified into 3 basic categories, including:

An intentional tort is a violation which results from intentional misconduct on the part of an individual, called the tortfeasor. These types of violations may result in injury or harm to another individual.

This may also include harm to an individual’s property. It is important to note that even though an intentional tort is based on the intention to perform the action, a tortfeasor may be held liable whether or not they actually intended for harm to result.

For example, if a tortfeasor surprises an individual with an unstable physical condition, they will be liable if that individual falls and is injured because of the surprise, whether or not they intended for harm to result.

Negligence is a legal concept which occurs when an individual acts carelessly and, as a result, another individual or individuals are injured. This legal theory allows for the injured parties to recover compensation for their injuries.

An individual is considered negligent if they were careless given the facts and circumstances of the situation. Negligence may also be categorized as gross negligence if the actions of the defendant rise to a level which is more serious than that which is found in an ordinary negligence case.

Strict liability is a type of civil liability that is not dependent upon negligence or an intent to harm. Pursuant to this legal theory, an injured party may hold another individual or entity liable for damages or losses without being required to show carelessness or intent.

Pursuant to the doctrine of strict liability, even if a defendant takes the necessary precautions and follows all safety requirements, the defendant may still be held liable. This is because, due to the nature of certain activities, the defendant should have been able to foresee that another individual might be harmed.

What are Intentional Torts?

Intentional torts are civil wrongs which are committed with specific intent. Common examples of intentional torts include:

  • Assault;
  • Battery;
  • False imprisonment;
  • Trespass to land;
  • Trespass to chattel;
  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress; and
  • Conversion.

How is Negligence Different from an Intentional Tort?

An intentional tort is committed on purpose against another individual and negligence occurs due to carelessness. A negligence-based tort, then, is a tort which is not intentional.

Negligence is defined as an individual’s failure to act as a reasonable person would in the same or similar circumstances. Plaintiffs in negligence cases are required to prove:

  • Duty;
  • Breach of duty;
  • Causation; and
  • Damages.

Examples of negligence torts may include:

  • Slip and fall accidents;
  • Car accident;.
  • Truck accidents;
  • Motorcycle accidents;
  • Pedestrian accidents;
  • Bicycle accidents; and
  • Medical malpractice.

What is Strict Liability?

Strict liability, as noted above, may be similar to a negligence case in that it is not an intentional act. A defendant is typically found liable based on the harm which occurred as a result of their actions regardless of their intent or fault.

Examples of strict liability torts includes issues which involve:

  • Wild animals: Any individual who keeps a wild animal will be held responsible for any harm that the animal may cause to another individual;
  • Abnormally dangerous activities, also called ultrahazardous activities: Activities such as transporting volatile chemicals and using explosives are considered strict liability activities when an individual is injured; and
  • Products liability: If a product is defective, causes injury, and is dangerous, the manufacturer or seller of the product will be liable under strict liability.

Strict liability holds the defendant liable without requiring the plaintiff to show negligence or fault. When an individual participates in an ultrahazardous activity, for example, keeping wild animals, using explosives, or making defective products, then they may be held liable if another individual is injured.

Even if a defendant takes the necessary precautions and follows safe requirements, they may still be held liable for injuries which result, as discussed above. Although the categories of strict liability torts may differ, there is a shared theme among the categories.

That is, the categories are dangerous and require a high degree of responsibility by the defendant. For example, if an individual owns a wild animal, they assume a special level of responsibility, knowing that their wild animal is inherently dangerous.

Ultrahazardous activities, for example, blasting, or using an explosive to blow large amounts of rock or earth, is clearly dangerous and is often conducted by a professional who is required to learn how to handle and utilize such a dangerous product. Manufacturers of products are in a unique position of earning and keeping the trust of the public.

In the eyes of the law, manufacturers have placed themselves in a position to create and sell products which users should be able to trust and utilize without fear of being injured. Therefore, manufacturers who betray this trust and create a product, even unintentionally, which injures a consumer, can be held liable.

In order to prevail a strict liability lawsuit, the plaintiff must:

  • Show proof of injury;
  • Prove that the actions of the defendant or that the product caused the injury; and
  • Show that the defendant’s activities were unreasonably hazardous or that the defendant had control over the product.

Should I Talk to a Lawyer about Tort Cases?

There are several different categories of tort cases, each with distinctive elements. It may be very helpful to consult with a tort lawyer if you have any issues, questions, or concerns related to a tort issue.

Your lawyer can review your claim or case, advise you of the laws in your state, and provide guidance regarding how to proceed with your case. If you have been injured by a defective product, you may be able to participate in a class action lawsuit to obtain compensation for your injuries.

These types of cases may be difficult to prove and a lawyer is best equipped to present evidence to the court regarding why you should receive compensation for your injuries. Having a lawyer gives you the best chance at receiving the compensation you deserve.

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