Maybe you’ve heard the phrase “tort reform” and wondered what exactly it meant. Or you’ve been injured in an accident and you're wondering if you have a legal claim. "Torts" are simply personal injuries caused by civil (as opposed to criminal) wrongs. This generally means that the wrong was unintended, but tort lawsuits can include everything from car accident injuries to injuries stemming from assaults, the invasion of privacy, wrongful death, and many others. FindLaw’s Torts and Personal Injuries section has resources to help you learn more about a wide range of torts.
In this section you can read about the different types of tort cases. Torts can cover simple accidents like slip and fall, dog bite, and car accident cases, as well as intentional harms like assault, defamation, and infliction of emotional distress. This section also explains the difference between civil torts claims and similar sounding criminal law violations that can be prosecuted by the state. You can also access resources on the elements of a tort claim as well the types of financial recovery possible after a successful tort case.
Some tort cases can involve behavior where one party carelessly causes an accident. Car crashes and slip and fall cases fall under the tort umbrella. Generally, lawsuits attempting to prove fault for an accident are also referred to as negligence claims where one party owes a duty of care to another, fails to meet that level of care, and that failure causes a tangible harm to someone else.
Most accidental tort cases hinge on being able to prove fault, which can be complicated, both legally and factually. In slip and fall cases, this is normally an examination of the property owner’s duty to maintain safe conditions, whether the owner acted reasonably in maintaining those conditions, and if there was any contributory negligence on the part of the injured party.
Intentionally harming another person is far different from an honest accident. The simplest form of intentional tort is a physical harm like battery or assault. Hitting another person, either with your self or an object, or attempting or threatening to do so, is a relatively easy harm to identify and prove. Tougher tort cases include defamation, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. While all of these include an element of intent, proving the harm and identifying the other party as the cause of the harm can be difficult. Other intentional torts include fraud, trespassing, and “conversion,” which looks a lot like theft. While many intentional torts are also criminal acts, civil law allows for tort lawsuits to help victims recover the full amount of their damages.
Hiring a Tort Lawyer
Proving a tort claim, and overcoming the procedural hurdles, can be a complicated legal effort. Consulting with an experienced tort lawyer can help you understand if you have a claim, how the legal process is likely to play out, and whether and how much you might recover for your injuries.