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What is Tort Law?

You may have a friend or family member that brought suit against someone else. The case could have resulted from a dog bite, construction accident, automobile collision, or other incident. Tort law refers to the civil side of the law, and it stands alongside criminal law to make up the two main branches of our legal system.

We will review in detail what a tort is and what tort lawsuits are so that you have a better understanding of modern tort law as well as related concepts of monetary compensation, intentional tort, tortious act, tort liability, civil wrong, and civil law.

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC manages tort lawsuits for civil wrong in order to obtain compensation for victims. This can include sums for hospital expenses, emotional distress, punitive damages, wrongful death, and more. Review the sections below and contact us if you have any questions about the relevant duty of care or breach of that.

tort-law-personal-injury-cases

Most personal injury and wrongful death cases are filed under ‘tort law’.

What are Tort Cases?

Tort law refers to specific facts and circumstances which can eventually give rise to a claim in civil law. Tort cases must include the following elements:

  1. A person, private entity, or government body causes harm to somebody else through act, omission, or other conduct.
  2. That harm leads to damage for which the injured party seeks compensation.

Harm can mean many different things including personal injury, intentional infliction of emotional distress, mental distress, property damage or real property devaluation, medical expenses, compensatory damages, or other things.

Tort law is supposed to restore a victim to where they were before the event or as close as possible to that state. Courts may also award punitive damages in these lawsuits for civil wrongs. Punitive damages punish victims for egregious behavior.

Tort law encompasses personal injury as well as other common areas of litigation like medical malpractice and wrongful death.

Our attorneys have extensive experience with all courts (including Supreme Court precedent), product liability tort, tort reform claims, deterring future misconduct, contract law defenses, and the word tort in nearly every sense.

Different Types of Tort Claims

As you may imagine, torts can arise in a number of different manners. Consequently, there are three main ways injured persons can impose liability in civil litigation.

  • Intentional Torts – Intentional torts happen when someone purposefully commits a wrongful act that harms another person. With an intentional tort, you must show the person intended to commit the wrongful act. Intentional torts include battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, willful misconduct, malicious prosecutions, intentional interference, and other intentional act. An intentional tort can have many consequences and damages.
  • Unintentional Torts – Unintentional or negligent torts occur when a party fails to act reasonably in a situation. Their conduct is said to be below the standard of care required in the circumstances since they did not exercise reasonable care. You need to prove things to obtain civil remedies and hold the person legally responsible for the defendant’s actions: duty, breach, causation, and damages. Also, you may have to disprove comparative negligence (i.e. someone else was to blame).
  • Strict Liability Torts – Strict liability cases have nothing to do with the state of mind of the defendant. All that matters is that the defendants committed an action that the law prohibited and the damage foreseen by the law manifested.

Contact us to learn more about the tort system, tort case, contributory negligence, common law systems and common law jurisdictions, and other important topics.

What is the Difference Between Torts and Criminal Law?

Generally, tort law addresses injuries committed between private individuals. Criminal law addresses crimes against the state.

In terms of redress of harm, the state can take your liberty, restrict your right to travel or gain employment, and further reduced your liberties. Tort law cannot do that but both tort and crimes can invoke financial penalties, and substantial ones at that.

Further, in a criminal action, the petitioner is actually the state. In a tort case, the petitioner (also called the plaintiff) is a private party-either a person or business.

What are Examples of Intentional Torts?

The law deems an act intentionally tortious when someone willfully commits a wrongful act. They need not understand or predict the entire range of consequences that the misconduct caused in order to breach the duty of care. Also, they need not have hostile or malicious intent. Here are some common intentional torts:

Assault Tort: The intentional tort of assault occurs when somebody places another in reasonable apprehension of harm. The anxiety, mental distress, emotional trauma, and other negative effects that the defendant’s actions cause is the thrust of this case. For example, you may be assaulted if someone puts a gun to your head.

Battery Tort: An intentional tort case for battery is when someone wrongfully and intentionally touches another person. The contact may be harmful and injurious but it need not be to establish a case under tort law principle. Also, the aggressor does not have to realize the battery is occurring for a plaintiff to bring such a case.

False Imprisonment Tort: Plaintiffs may bring tort cases for this if a defendant unlawfully and intentionally confined them for an unreasonable amount of time. The plaintiff must be aware of the confinement contemporaneously. If they cannot prove this, then they must prove actual harm in order to establish the prima facie elements of this cause of action.

Defamation Tort: Defamation is an action for people who suffer reputational harm or other negative effects due to malicious statements made by others. The defendant can always show the statements were true to dismiss such a case.

Slander Tort: Slander is a form of defamation that involves spoken words. People outside of the plaintiff must have heard the words spoken. Some words are slander per se because the law deems they offensive by their very utterance. For example, if you call a lawyer a con artist, then a judge may call that slander per se and you cannot rebut that presumption.

Libel Tort: Libel is a form of defamation involving the printed word including signs, ads, television broadcasting.

Trespass Tort: Trespass, often referred to as trespass to land, happens when a person enters the land of another without permission or proper authority. This protection includes the area above and below the actual plot of land in question.

Conversion Tort: You can bring a conversion action against anyone that dispossesses you of your personal property or possibly even if they merely devalued or damaged it. You may seek the full value of the goods from the person charged with the offense in civil law.

Malicious prosecution tort: If meritless complaints lead to civil action and criminal charges, then you may raise a malicious prosecution case against the wrongdoer. To succeed, you must demonstrate there was no probable cause to file the complaints in the first place. Also you must illustrate that the defendant had malicious intent.

Intentional infliction of emotional distress tort: This tort case describes the situation where a defendant intends to cause distress in the mind and person of the plaintiff. The misconduct must be outrageous or extreme. The consequence must be substantial including mortification, distress, or grief.

Strict Liability Torts Cases You Can Bring.

In tort law, strict liability actions arise because the law says so, not so much because common sense or community values warrant them. So you may wonder when can you bring a case for strict liability.

Here are some frequent scenarios that implicate strict liability suits:

  • Animal attacks: If you are bitten or attacked by a dog or other animal, especially a wild animal, then the law may say you have a right to file suit and recover.
  • Products liability: If you are injured, maimed, or killed because of a defective product, then you or a loved one may sue for damage that resulted from the event.
  • Dangerous activities: If someone causes you injury while they are conducting a dangerous activity, then you may be able to sue them for strict liability under tort law principles. The activities need not be illegal. Some frequent examples include jackhammering and construction.

If you have questions about strict liability and tort law, contact our law firm.

What are Some Unintentional Torts Can You Sue For?

Negligence is the field of law that allows you to sue for unintentional tortious conduct. Negligent acts are described as unreasonable for the situation and that lead to injury. You need to prove the defendant 1) breached a 2) duty owed to you and that 3) caused your 4) damages.

The common acts are generally considered negligent:

  • Speeding in a crowded area
  • Refusing to yield to pedestrians when required to
  • Not cleaning up spills or wet areas in a grocery store
  • Not replacing broken steps or handrails on a staircase

People should take reasonable care to avoid private wrongs and future misconduct. If you have reasonable doubt that you were involved in a case like this or other private nuisance, talk to us about the legal duty required for the circumstances or how the defendant committed acts that led to the plaintiff’s injury.

The personal injuries of the injured person should be answered for by the defendant or insurance company especially if they were the result of intentional acts.

What Help is Available in Tort Law?

Tort law affords victims several options for help and relief in the event that you are injured due to the tortious actions of another. What option you may choose depends upon how you were harmed and the nature and extent of your injuries.

  1. Financial Compensation: Tort law permits plaintiffs to seek financial compensation for their physical injuries, trauma, mental anguish, long-term suffering, medical expenses, disability, lost support, lost companionship, and other damages.
  2. Restitution: A court may award restitution in order to bring the plaintiff back to the position they were before the accident. Also, it may seek to return any ill-gotten gains the defendants secured as a result of their misconduct.
  3. Equitable Remedies: Tort law provides for various equitable remedies in order to secure a just legal outcome. These may include an injunction or temporary restraining order. An injunction is an order or warning made by the court to the party of a lawsuit. A temporary restraining order is court directive to freeze action until the judge can review and rule on a case matter.

What Compensation Can I Receive in a Tort Case?

The amount and kind of compensation available in any case depends upon 1) the plaintiff’s damages and 2) the defendant’s misconduct. While you can look to other cases for instruction, they are not controlling.

You should sit down with your counsel and analyze the merits of your case and potential settlement or verdict value entirely independent from other lawsuits. Here are the categories of compensation that may be available to you.

Economic Damages. In tort law, economic damages compensate victims for their out-of-pocket expenses and tangible, financial losses that an incident causes. Normally, these cover hospital bills, lost income, property damage, and similar things.

Non-Economic Damages. Tort law makes possible financial recovery for the intangible damage an accident or intentional act may cause. Lots of times this means pain, suffering, disfigurement, lost self-esteem, but it differs from victim to victim.

Wrongful Death Damages. Families suffering with the loss of a loved one because of negligent or purposeful conduct are allowed to obtain financial compensation for their lost companionship, lost support, and other losses. Normally, the person bringing this claim must be a close relative or spouse.

Punitive Damages. If the defendant’s actions were particularly reckless, wanton, or outrageous, the judge or jury can award the plaintiff with punitive damages. These are supposed to stop others from committing similar misconduct in the future.

What Do I Need to Prove in a Tort Law Case?

Every lawsuit is different from one another. Even if they are in the same field of law, they can turn on completely unique facts and circumstances. Still, you may be wondering how do you prove your case?

Generally, the plaintiff in a tort law action must show that the defendant violated the relevant duty of care. Then, they have to connect the dots and convince a judge or jury that this violation caused their harms. How the tort occurs may vary including standard negligence, professional negligence, or even vicarious liability.

Specific suits will have individual elements that you need to prove. All that the defendant needs to do to defeat your cause of action is remove any element from your lawsuit or allege an affirmative and overriding defense. For example, they could reply to your allegations that you were in fact contributorily negligent.

Most of the time, you should ask yourself what a reasonable person would do in order to figure out the correct duty of care for a situation. Although, more technical settings, including medical contexts, may require an advanced understanding. This may apply to common law countries but probably not criminal prosecution.

Tort Law Case Jury Awards and Settlements

Here are some sample summaries of tort law claims to show you what recovery options are available and how they are achieved.

$1,225,000 Slip and Fall Settlement; Chicago, Illinois; 2020:

A pastor in his late sixties was out walking his dog at night when he slipped on some ice on a neighbor’s driveway and seriously injured his head. He sustained a traumatic brain injury as well as a subdural hematoma that required cranioplasties and craniectomies. The pastor sued the neighbor.

He alleged the water was an unnatural accumulation from a downspout that turned into black ice. The defendant shot back that the pastor was drunk or, in the alternative, that the ice was a natural accumulation and open and obvious.

Their differences did not prevent them from settling the matter to end the litigation. The pastor received $1,225,000 in financial compensation for his economic damages (medical expenses) and non-economic damages (pain and suffering).

$500,000 Car Accident Settlement; Chicago, Illinois; 2020:

A family was driving on the highway on the south side of Chicago when a large truck sideswiped them. The driver of the family’s passenger vehicle sustained soft tissue damage to her back as well as several fractured bones and a traumatic brain injury.

She required extensive medical treatment (over $60,000 worth) as well as other costs. She brought suit against the truck driver and truck company but only the latter had sufficient coverage so the claim proceeded against that business. Eventually, as the two sides finished haggling, the woman obtained $500,000 for her damages.

$2,325,000 Defective Product Liability Settlement; Illinois; 1997:

A man in his forties was piloting his Cessna around Illinois. A part became lodged in the engine. This defective product caused him to lose control of the plane. It subsequently crashed and he died from sustained in the incident. His wife and son survived him.

They brought this wrongful death lawsuit on his and their behalf for damages. They sued the maker of the defective product, the maker of the plane, and the service company that operated on the plane. The family argued that all of the defendants were negligent in various ways and responsible for the wrongful death of their loved one.

They sought compensation for his personal injuries as well as their grief, expenses, and lost support and companionship. Not long after this claim was filed, the insurance companies of the separate defendants began settlement talks with the plaintiffs.

The family recovered $2,325,000 from all of them collectively for their economic damages and non economic damages.

$4,519,625 Premises Liability Jury Award; Aurora, Illinois; 2018:

This premises liability cause of action centered on a bank in the Fox Valley region of Illinois. A middle-aged woman entered the facility. As she did, the door-opening device fell on top of her head. It was a large piece of metal so it did a lot of damage.

She already was suffering from several serious pre-existing conditions including multiple sclerosis. The incident aggravated spinal injuries and caused her a lot of pain and suffering for her. Doctors performed surgery and had to render substantial medical treatment which costed a lot of money in medical expenses. She sued the bank and the property owner on a theory of premises liability.

While the two defendants squabbled over who was responsible, the jury looked over that spat and awarded her more than $4.5 million citing their failure regarding the proper duty of care. Of that large sum, $1,019,525 was for past and future medical expenses; $1.25 million was for past and future disability; $1 million was for emotional trauma; $1.25 million was for pain and suffering; and $100 was for disfigurement.

Eighty percent of the fault was apportioned to the bank and the rest was apportioned to the property owner.

Want to Know about other Types of Cases In Illinois?

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC constantly encounters different and unique accidents including those involving a tort or product liability or anything similar. We meet with people that have been involved in tort incidents we have never encountered before.

Even your tort case might be unlike any other. Yet, they all go through the same legal processes and procedures.

When that happens, we can help out in all that you need done for your Illinois personal injury suit. Also, we can do this at no-cost until the dispute is over.

Want to hear more about how you can obtain the compensation that you deserve? Call us today.