What is a "Tort"?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Nancy J. Winkler with Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C..
A tort is a term used in civil law to describe the action one party takes which causes harm or injury to another person or party. Tort law typically refers to personal injury law, in which the victim or “plaintiff” pursues the party responsible or “defendant” for the damages resulting from their injury. Common damages pursued in tort claims include medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, but they can vary widely from case to case. If you suspect you may have a valid tort claim, it’s important to reach out to an experienced personal injury lawyer in our area to learn about your options.
Common torts include:
- Car accidents
- Slip and fall or trip and fall accidents
- Dangerous premises accidents
- Defective or dangerous products
- Workplace accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Birth injuries
- Dog bites and animal attacks
- Mass torts (i.e. many people are hurt by the same party)
- Assault and battery
- Infliction of emotional distress
- Damage to personal property
Torts may be intentional or unintentional.
Intentional torts are typically criminal in nature, and while it may be possible to file criminal charges, the civil case is handled separately and focuses on compensating the victim rather than on punishing the perpetrator. In intentional tort cases it’s important to note that the civil injury claim can begin even if the criminal case has not yet begun or resolved. Unintentional torts do not typically occur due to an intent-to-harm; instead, unintentional torts arise when one or more parties acts negligently in regard to the safety of one or more persons, resulting in the injury or harm in question.
For example, if a worker is injured on the job due to negligence on the part of their employer in enforcing safety regulations, the employer may be considered liable. Similarly, if a manufacturer should have known that their product was dangerous before it went to market, yet they did not address the danger and a consumer or consumers were injured, the manufacturer may be liable for their negligence in a product liability tort.
Personal injury lawyers typically handle tort claims.
“Torts” are often discussed interchangeably with personal injury claims or lawsuits. Whenever someone suffers harm or injury as the result of negligent or intentional conduct from another party, the victim may be eligible to seek a recovery in a civil action.
A personal injury attorney can help not only assess the strength of your case, but can also help identify current and future damages, as well as collecting evidence regarding when, where, and how the tort happened, as well as who was legally responsible for the event. The good news is that most injury lawyers who handle tort claims offer free consultations and even work on contingency; this allows the injured party and their family to focus on healing and recovery rather than worrying about another medical bill. If the tort claim is successful, the attorney would then receive a percentage of the winnings in payment.
To learn more about tort law, or for help investigating your own claim, reach out to a personal injury lawyer in your area.