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Definition - What does Tort mean?

A tort is an intentional, negligent, or strict liability action which causes another person to suffer loss or injury.

If a tort is committed and injury or loss occurs, the person or entity found responsible for the action may be held liable to compensate the victim for their losses. Losses can include physical and emotional injury, economic injury, damage of property, product liability claims, and violations of privacy.

Criminal vs. Civil Claims

Torts are considered civil claims rather than criminal, and if the defendant is found guilty it is generally through a preponderance of evidence rather than the criminal standard of beyond a reasonable doubt.

Monetary compensation is also offered to the plaintiff rather than criminal penalties (e.g., penalites, fines, imprisonment).

Due to the lower burden of proof, it is also possible for some defendants to be found liable in a tort lawsuit but innocent in a criminal case (i.e., O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of murdering Nicole Simpson but later lost a wrongful death civil case).

Common Tort Actions

As mentioned above, torts can be intentional including assault, battery, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, or they can be caused by negligent actions, including car accidents, property damage, bicycle accidents, trucking accidents, or dog bites.

Torts can also be strict liability claims which frequently arise in manufacturing cases. Strict liability allows for compensation or the ability to hold the manufacturer liable, even without proving negligence. For instance, if a consumer is injured by a product, which was defective in its design or manufacturing or lacked sufficient warnings, the consumer may sue under strict liability laws and win their claim without proving negligence.

Steps after Injury

If you have been injured from the negligent actions of another person through a negligent, intentional, or strict liability tort, you may be eligible for compensation for your losses, including payment for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Consider, however, all tort claims must be filed within the statute of limitations. Failure to file a claim within the proper time and you may lose your right to compensation.

State laws vary; talk to an injury lawyer if you have questions about your injuries.

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Tort Reform

Glossary of Legal Terms

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