Understanding Tort Law: What it is and Types of Tort Cases

Understanding tort law


A “tort” refers to a body of civil laws protecting individuals from accidental or intentional unreasonable acts of another person or a company. Tort recognizes one's responsibility for their wrongful actions whether accidental or intentional.

The word tort, meaning injury or wrong, came into use in the Middle Ages around 1350 CE. Its modern use applies to civil law in which one party inflicts an injury to a person or their property or reputation.

The basis of tort law comes from common law and state statutory law. Court decisions may expand or contract the extent of an area of law. Tort law provides the injured party with a means of legal redress and compensation. This may include a monetary award, an injunction, or restitution. Furthermore, it pertains to pain and suffering, physical harm or injury, and property loss.


Types of Tort Law

Torts fall into three main categories:

Intentional torts: when one party intentionally engages in activity that causes damage or personal injury to an individual. Examples of intentional torts include:

  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Trespassing

Negligent torts: when one party carelessly acts in a way that causes injury to another party; not deliberately. Examples of negligent torts include:

  • Medical malpractice
  • Car accidents
  • Slip and fall accidents

Strict liability torts: when a party has liability without another party needing to prove fault or negligence. Also called “absolute liability,” its most common application occurs when a defective consumer product causes injury. Examples of strict liability torts include:

  • Defective products (product liability)
  • Animal attacks (dog bite lawsuits)
  • Abnormally dangerous activities

Abnormally dangerous activities encompass a wide variety of items ranging from blasting to the transportation and storage of hazardous materials.


Tort Legal Remedies

Civil law provides remedies and redress opportunities for tortious behavior. The injured party may bring a lawsuit to recover monetary damages or receive an injunction to force the offending party to cease the injurious activity. Courts may award both compensatory and punitive damages.

Compensatory damages usually include the injured party's lost earnings, lost future earning capacity, actual medical expenses and pain and suffering.

A court may award expected losses as well. The court awards an injunction when one party proves the other party's actions would cause "considerable or irreparable harm."


Finding Tort Attorneys

Attorneys specialize in different legal areas, so if you think you have a tortious case, contact an attorney who specializes in torts or personal injury. Look for an experienced law firm that represents cases within your state or the state in which you were injured. A limited practice provides a high level of specialization, meaning such a firm will present the greatest knowledge of the area and significant experience.

Torts encompasses a complicated area of law that ranges from personal injury cases to defamation of character. Attorneys practicing tort law usually specialize to provide their clients with the best representation in this unique area of law.

Some tortious behaviors are also criminal acts. They can be tried in both courts separately, but you will need a separate criminal attorney.

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Attorney Profile:

Meet Colorado Workers' Compensation, Personal Injury and Insurance Dispute Attorney R. Mack Babcock

Prior to founding The Babcock Law Firm, LLC, R. Mack Babcock spent many years on the other side of workers' compensation , personal injury and insurance disputes representing some of the largest insurance companies and corporations in Colorado as an attorney at a midsize insurance defense firm.

Babcock is a member of the Colorado and Denver Bar Associations, the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association and the Workers' Compensation Educational Association.  In early 2008, he was elected as the Colorado House District 43 Committee Chairperson for the Douglas County Colorado Democratic Party. In connection with this position, he is responsible for finding a candidate(s) to run for House District 43, overseeing the campaign(s), organizing volunteers, and also sits on the executive committee for the Douglas County Democratic Party.