Introduction To Tort Law
What Is A Tort?
- What is a tort?
- Legal Terms
- Grounds For Tort Action
- Compensation For Tort Action.
What Is A Tort?
A Tort is an act that has caused injury or harm to another person or property. The person who has suffered may seek compensation from the person who caused the injury.
What Are The Main Legal Terms?
Party: A person or business that is involved in a lawsuit.
Plaintiff, Petitioner, Claimant: The person who makes a claim against another. They may also be known as the ‘injured party’.
Defendant or Respondent: The party who defends against a claim made against them.
Tort Action: The lawsuit under tort is called “tort action”.
Duty Of Care: This is a legal obligation that an individual or entity has to another person to act with a certain degree of care when performing certain tasks.
Negligence: A person who has been negligent has 'failed to use reasonable care' and their actions have resulted in damage or injury to another person or property.
Contributory Negligence: This is where the plaintiff may have also been at fault and ‘contributed’ to the damages.
Damages: These are the losses that compensation is being claimed for. E.g. A person who is involved in a car accident may claim compensation for the damages to their vehicle, medical expenses, lost wages due to being unable to work, suffering and inconvenience.
Compensatory Damages: These are claims of compensation for losses suffered by the claimant.
Punitive Damages: These are additional damages paid to the plaintiff by the guilty party. They are intended as a form of punishment to prevent others from behaving in the same way. They are only awarded when cases are more than just negligence.
Intentional Tort: This is where the defendant has harmed another person or property on purpose. Intentional means 'deliberate or planned'.
Grounds For Tort Action
The following criteria must be met to have grounds for a valid tort action:
- A Duty - of Care Was Violated: The defendant must have violated a duty of care owed to the plaintiff. The plaintiff must show that the defendant was under a legal duty to act in a particular way.
- The Breach of Duty - Was Directly Responsible For the Injury: The plaintiff’s injury was a direct result of the defendant’s negligent actions. The plaintiff must show that the defendant did not act according to that duty (breach of duty).
- Damages Were Caused – As A Result Of The Breach Of Duty: The plaintiff suffered either economic or non-economic damages due to the plaintiff's breach of duty. The plaintiff must show that they suffered injury or loss 'as a result of the breach of duty'.
Compensation For Tort Action
Claims for compensation may be made based on:
- Lost Wages: Where the plaintiff misses work as a result of their injury.
- Medical Bills: When the plaintiff’s injury forced them to face high medical bills that may not be covered by insurance. This may include any future medical expenses resulting from the injury.
- Pain and Suffering: The plaintiff may claim compensation for excessive pain and suffering including loss of life’s enjoyment and long-term physical pain.
- Additional Losses Suffered: This may be monetary damages for any other losses suffered.
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