Last Updated on March 17, 2021 by Theodore Spaulding
What is a Tort?
A tort, in common law jurisdiction, is a civil wrong that causes a claimant to suffer loss or harm, resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act. It can include intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, financial losses, injuries, invasion of privacy, and many other things.
Tort law is one of the main pillars of the law. Contracts, real property, and criminal law are other main pillars, and there are many smaller subsets of the law as well. But tort law concerns itself with injuries to people.
Tort law seeks to provide reimbursement to members of society who suffer losses because of the recklessness or unreasonable conduct of others. Torts may either be intentional, negligent, or strict liability. The word “tort” means “wrong”, and originally evolved from the writs of trespass and trespass on the case. While each act involved the actor, or tortfeasor, directly causing injury to a victim, one of the many drawbacks to the writ system was that it lacked any comprehensive underlying theoretical basis.
What Are the Different Types of Torts?
An intentional tort is any deliberate interference with a legally recognized interest, such as the rights to bodily integrity, emotional tranquility, dominion over property, seclusion from public scrutiny, and freedom from confinement or deception. These interests are violated by the intentional torts of assault, Battery False Imprisonment, invasion of privacy, conversion, Misrepresentation Fraud. The intent element of these torts is satisfied when the tortfeasor acts with the desire to bring about harmful consequences and is substantially certain that such consequences will follow. Mere reckless behavior sometimes called willful and wanton behavior, does not rise to the level of an intentional tort.
Most injuries that result from tortious behavior are the product of negligence, not intentional wrongdoing. Negligence is the term used by tort law to characterize behavior that creates unreasonable risks of harm to persons and property. A person acts negligently when his behavior departs from the conduct ordinarily expected of a reasonably prudent person under the circumstances. In general, the law requires jurors to use their common sense and life experience in determining the proper degree of care and vigilance with which people must lead their lives to avoid imperiling the safety of others.
In some cases, tort law imposes liability on defendants who are neither negligent nor guilty of intentional wrongdoing. Known as Strict Liability, or liability without fault, this branch of torts seeks to regulate those activities that are useful and necessary but that create abnormally dangerous risks to society. These activities include blasting, transporting hazardous materials, storing dangerous substances, and keeping certain wild animals in captivity. Consumers who have been injured by defectively manufactured products also rely on strict liability. Under the doctrine of strict Product Liability, a manufacturer must guarantee that its goods are suitable for their intended use when they are placed on the market for public consumption. The law of torts will hold manufacturers strictly liable for any injuries that result from placing unreasonably dangerous products into the stream of commerce, without regard to the amount of care exercised in preparing the product for sale and distribution and without regard to whether the consumer purchased the product from, or entered into a contractual relationship with, the manufacturer.
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