Tort law determines whether a person should be held legally accountable for an injury against another, as well as what type of compensation the injured party is entitled to.
The four elements to every successful tort case are: duty, breach of duty, causation and injury. For a tort claim to be well-founded, there must have been a breach of duty made by the defendant against the plaintiff, which resulted in an injury. Tort lawsuits are the biggest category of civil litigation, and can encompass a wide range of personal injury cases – however, there are three main types: intentional torts, negligence, and strict liability.
An intentional tort is when an individual or entity purposely engages in conduct that causes injury or damage to another. For example, striking someone in a fight would be consider an intentional act that would fall under the tort of battery; whereas accidentally hitting another person would not qualify as “intentional” because there was no intent to strike the individual (…however, this act may be considered negligent if the person hit was injured).
Although it may seem like an intentional tort can be categorized as a criminal case, there are important differences between the two. A crime can be defined as a wrongful act that injures or interferes with the interests of society.
In comparison, intentional torts are wrongful acts that injure or interfere with an individual’s well-being or property. While criminal charges are brought by the government and can result in a fine or jail sentence, tort charges are filed by a plaintiff seeking monetary compensation for damages that the defendant must pay if they lose. Sometimes a wrongful act may be both a criminal and tort case.
Examples of Intentional Torts
- False imprisonment
- Intentional infliction of emotional distress
- Trespass (to land and property)
There is a specific code of conduct which every person is expected to follow and a legal duty of the public to act a certain way in order to reduce the risk of harm to others.
Failure to adhere to these standards is known as negligence.
Negligence is by far the most common type of tort.
Unlike intentional torts, negligence cases do not involve deliberate actions, but instead are when an individual or entity is careless and fails to provide a duty owed to another person.
The most common examples of negligence torts are cases of slip and fall, which occur when a property owner fails to act as a reasonable person would, thus resulting in harm to the visitor or customer.
Examples of Negligence Torts
- Slip and fall accidents
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Medical malpractice
Last are torts involving strict liability. Strict, or “absolute,” liability applies to cases where responsibility for an injury can be imposed on the wrongdoer without proof of negligence or direct fault.
What matters is that an action occurred and resulted in the eventual injury of another person.
Defective product cases are prime examples of when liability is maintained despite intent.
In lawsuits such as these, the injured consumer only has to establish that their injuries were directly caused by the product in question in order to have the law on their side. The fact that the company did not “intend” for the consumer to be injured is not a factor.
Examples of Strict Liability Torts
- Defective products (Product Liability)
- Animal attacks (dog bite lawsuits)
- Abnormally dangerous activities