What is tort law?

Tort law is a legal term that simply refers to personal injuries caused by civil (as opposed to criminal) wrongdoing. In general, this means that the wrongdoing was unintended. This includes injuries caused by vehicle accidents. While some torts are also crimes punishable with imprisonment, the main goal of tort law is to provide relief for damages to the injured person, and to deter other people from committing the same harm.

Torts have three general categories:

  • Incidental torts – These types of claims involve behavior where one party causes an accident due to carelessness. Lawsuits that attempt to prove fault for an accident are referred to negligence claims in which one party owes a duty of care to another, fails to meet that level of care, resulting in a tangible harm.
  • Intentional torts – These claims involve behavior in which the person that acts wrongly intends to perform the action. Common intentional torts include assault and battery, fraud, defamation, and trespass.
  • Strict liability torts – These claims involve cases where damages occurred, but the burden of proof is not placed on the plaintiff (the injured person) to prove that damages were a result of the defendant's negligence, only that damages occurred and the defendant is responsible. Common strict liability claims involve defective products sold by manufacturers who were aware of the defect.

Some tort cases can overlap into the criminal law realm as well. Tort law is complex and differs state to state. Before launching a claim, it is important to talk with an experienced injury attorney.

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