The Basis of Tort and Personal Injury Law

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A tort is defined as a negligent or intentional civil wrong not arising out of a contract or statute. A tort is an act which causes injury and individuals who suffer personal injury as a result of another party’s tortuous act may sue for damages.

While tort and personal injury law can be mistaken as the same, they are not. Tort law usually provides people with the rights to compensation when another person harms their legally protected interests. Personal injury law arises as a result of violation of tort law, when a person suffers some form of injury, either physical or psychological, as the result of an accident or medical malpractice. Torts are categorized in two ways, the first being negligence torts and the second is called intentional torts.

Negligence

This is basically, the touchstone of tort liability and the most common cause of civil lawsuits in the United States. Under this legal theory, people have the duty to observe proper diligence and reasonable care and skill to avoid causing injury to other people.

Most car accidents are based on the tort of negligence. Their liability in negligence arises from careless or thoughtless conduct or a failure to act when a reasonable person would have acted. Conduct becomes "negligent" when it falls below a legally recognized standard of taking reasonable care under the circumstances to protect others from harm. Even without the intent to harm, the other party is bound to pay for damages if proven guilty of negligence.

Intentional Torts

These are civil wrongs that were committed deliberately. As compared to negligence where the act is usually an accident caused by the lack of due care, there is malice or intent to cause injury. Under the law, intentional torts include acts of:

  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Slander and libel
  • False imprisonment
  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress

Damages available for intentional torts tend to be broader and more generous than for negligent torts but it is more difficult to prove because it must be proven that the party who caused the injury acted with the specific intent or mental state of intentionally performing the act.

Since a tort is a civil wrong committed against another person – personal injury lawsuits arising from negligence or intentional torts may be instituted to recover compensation and damages.

The primary aim of tort law is to provide relief for the damages and under the personal injury law, the injured person may sue for an injunction to prevent the continuation of the tortuous conduct or for monetary damages.

Among the types of damages the injured party may recover are: loss of earnings capacity, pain and suffering, and reasonable medical expenses. They include both present and future expected losses.

Tort and personal injury law recognize that every man must be responsible for his action and that any civil wrong, like crime, must pay.


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