A Beginner's Guide to Torts

By: law firm


Dictionary[dot]com defines "tort" as a wrongful act, not including a breach of contract or trust, that results in injury to another's person, property, reputation, or the like, and for which the injured party is entitled to compensation. A tort happens when someone breaks his duties to others under general law. To successfully engage in a tort lawsuit, it must contain four elements:

1. A legal duty or responsibility owed by a person to others;

2. A breach of that duty;

3. That breach causing the damages; and

4. Damages incurred by the victim.

Torts come in several general varieties, including intentional, strict liability, products, and negligent, with negligent torts being the most common.

Intentional torts result from a deliberate act on the part of the person performing the tort (called the "tortfeasor"). This includes acts such as assault, battery, and trespass. To win this type of suit requires that it be proven that the tortfeasor knew with certainty that damages would occur.

Negligent torts are more like accidents; they are not deliberate acts. Examples include medical malpractice and slip and fall cases. To win a negligent tort one must prove the four elements mentioned above by a preponderance of the evidence.

Are all accidents torts? No. If damage occurs because of some external factor beyond a person's control, then that person is not negligent. For example, if the driver of a vehicle suffers a heart attack that causes him to go out of control, then the driver is not committing a tort by striking another vehicle. Situations in which the victim was fully aware of the risk of engaging in a certain activity are also not torts.

A strict liability tort is one in which the tortfeasor is responsible for its action regardless of intention. Examples of this type of tort include projects involving explosives, potentially dangerous animals, or hazardous chemicals. Anyone dealing with these types of items has full responsibility to make sure no one gets hurt.

A products liability case involves a manufacturer of a product that injures others. Similar to strict liability cases, intention does not have to be present. There are three categories of products liability cases: design defect, manufacturing defect, and failure to warn.

This has been a quick rundown of torts. Obviously, for someone with aspirations of being a lawyer, there is much more to know. But it is also a good idea for common citizens to have an understanding of what tort law is and how it protects them.

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If you have been injured, call Nashville personal injury lawyers Griffith & Roberts to discuss your case. If you're receiving calls from an insurance company it may be best to put them off until you've had an opportunity to speak with a Nashville lawyer about your legal rights.

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