Types of Torts

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Introduction: Different Types of Torts

In common law, a tort is an instance of harmful behaviour arising from neglect or failure to act that results in injury to a person or property.

The general aim of tort law is to provide relief to the harmed or injured party by imposing liability on the responsible party.

Tort law is divided into three categories namely negligent torts, intentional torts, and strict liability.

These tort laws determine when a person should be held legally accountable and how to compensate the injured party. Typically, the plaintiff seeks compensation through a personal injury lawyer.

Standard Proof of Proof in Tort Laws

In criminal and civil cases, there are different standards of proof. These are determined if the complainant can prove that the defendant is legally responsible for their injuries.

Tort involves different types of injuries including emotional distress, physical injury, lost wages, damaged reputation, trespass, and property damage. It is also typically governed by civil law and not criminal law.

Different Types of Torts Under Tort Law

As earlier discussed, there are three different types of torts in tort law.

Intentional tort

As the name implies, intentional torts occur when a person purposely commits an act that injures another. The tortfeasor has mental intent and knowledge that their actions will bring about harm or injury.

For instance, if one party batters another by physically assaulting them, it is considered intentional. Accidentally hitting a person would not qualify as intentional because there was no pre-planned intent.

Intentional torts are defined as wrongs where the aggressor knows that their actions would result in harm or injury. Although some cases can appear criminal, such as assault or battery, intentional torts do not interfere with the interests of society.

Intentional tort cases are filed by the injured party seeking to get compensation for damages from the defendant.

In some cases, a wrongful act can be considered a tort case as well as a criminal case with the victim recovering more than financial compensation. In these cases, criminal charges can be filed by the government which results in a fine or as well as a jail term.

Some examples of intentional torts are:

  • Defamation
  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Conversion
  • False imprisonment
  • Infliction of emotional distress
  • Trespass
  • Fraud
  • Deceit
Negligent Tort

Negligent torts, unlike intentional torts, are a result of negligence on the defendant’s part. In negligent torts, there is no deliberate action.

Negligence is considered as conduct that is below a reasonable standard of duty or care resulting in harm or injury. In society, individuals have a duty to act reasonably and responsibly when interacting with others.

Failure of an individual to act carefully that results in harm or injury, is considered a case of negligence.

For instance, a driver going over the speed limit who causes an accident is acting negligently and may owe the victim for their loss.

Common negligence torts are slip and fall cases where a property owner does not act reasonably causing harm or injury to a customer. If a janitor fails to put up a sign when mopping and a customer gets injured from a fall, the customer can file a negligence tort.

Common negligence torts include:

  • Car accidents
  • Truck accidents
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Medical malpractice
Strict Liability

Torts that involve strict liability apply where the defendant undertakes an activity that results in harm. In this case, the injured person does not need to prove intent or duty of care.

Absolute liability lies with the defendant and the injured party can file for compensation even if the responsible party took precautions and did not act intentionally to cause harm. However, the victim must prove that harm or injury resulted from the defendant’s actions.

In strict liability torts, the injured person must prove their injuries are a direct result of the person or product in question. The fact that the company or person had no intent to harm notwithstanding.

For example, a defective product that results in harm or injury to you or a loved one is a prime example of strict liability. Other examples of strict liability torts include:

  • Animal attacks such as dog bites
  • Abnormally dangerous activities that result in harm
  • Hazardous materials

Benefits of Tort Law

One obvious benefit of tort laws is that they allow victims to seek compensation for harm, injury, or losses. With an experienced lawyer, you may be able to recover the cost of litigation.

The tort law system in some states also allows discovery. Through discovery, you and your lawyer can gather evidence as you prepare for trial. This ensures deserving victims get compensation.

Criticisms of Tort Law

The major drawback of tort law is the statute of limitations. This means there is a limit on the time a victim can sue for compensation. In some states, the limit can be as short as 180 days where government entities are involved.

Another drawback is damage caps which limit recovery for compensation for non-economic damages. Pain, suffering, emotional distress, or loss of a loved one are difficult to quantify in dollar amounts. Some states only allow a limited amount of these types of damages.

The burden of proof is high to win a significant amount in non-economic damages. In some states, there are also limits to punitive damages meaning a victim cannot recover damages that exceed actual damages suffered.

These limitations of tort law in some states may not deter bad actors. However, with an experienced attorney, you can fight for what you deserve and get fair compensation.

Summary

The different types of torts under tort law can be confusing for those who are not familiar with the topic.

However, it is important to understand these concepts to have a better understanding of how personal injury cases are handled in court.

We hope that this article is helpful as well as provide you with a basic overview of tort law.

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