What Is Tort Law

What Is Tort Law

Torts are civil wrongs resulting in personal injury or harm that constitute grounds for a lawsuit.

Thus, tort law addresses conflicts between private individuals or entities (e.g. pharmaceutical company) and ultimately serves a two-fold purpose:

   1.) to ensure that the injured or aggrieved party receives compensation for their damages and

   2.) to deter others from committing the same or similar harms. Essentially, tort law is the type of law that governs personal injury claims.

Who Determines Tort Law?

For the most part, individual states determine tort law through judicial and legislative action. A tort claim can be made under federal law, but this is rare.

A civil rights violation is an example of a federal tort claim. Tort reform, an exceptionally controversial issue in current politics, is an effort to take tort law rights away from consumers and limit the liability of those responsible for civil wrongdoings.

What Types of Damages Can the Injured Party Recover?

Under tort law, an injured party may recover damages for loss of earnings or earning capacity, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. Punitive damages may be awarded in tort law cases where the defendant's wrongdoing is deemed willful and/or malicious.

Are There Different Types of Torts?

There are three general categories of torts: intentional, negligent, and strict liability .

  • Intentional tort - involves an action that was carried out voluntarily and with foreknowledge of the wrongful or harmful consequences. Intentional torts fall into a number of subcategories including torts against a person, property torts, dignitary torts, and economic torts. Examples of intentional torts include battery, assault, fraud, and defamation of character.
  • Negligence tort - one in which the harmful action was unintentional but was brought about by another party's “unreasonably unsafe” actions or a failure to act. Professional malpractice (e.g. medical malpractice) constitutes a kind of negligence tort. Vehicle accidents often give rise to negligence torts.
  • Strict liability tort , sometimes known as absolute liability, is a wrong by which the wrongdoer bears absolute legal responsibility regardless of proof of negligence. For example, strict liability torts may arise out of incidents involving toxic substances/chemicals or explosives. In pharmaceutical litigation, a drug company may be held strictly liable for injuries caused by their products regardless of their precautionary measures.

Is a Tort a Punishable Offense?

Some torts are punishable crimes. However, tort law is different from criminal law. Tort law is concerned with monetary remedies whereas criminal law is concerned with punishment.

In other words, tort law exists to serve the injured party by enabling them to obtain compensation for their losses. Criminal law is aimed at punishing an individual for their actions and deterring individuals from committing such acts.

Personal Injury and Tort Law 

Most personal injury cases fall under tort law. Tort law covers a wide range of personal injury cases including, but not limited to, cases involving car or motorcycle accidents, boating accidents, medical negligence, and product liability.

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