A tort is a wrongful act committed by one party against another party. A party who suffers injury or loss as a result of another’s conduct can take legal action against the other party. The resulting lawsuit is known as a civil tort case. The party bringing the lawsuit, known as the plaintiff, seeks damages in the form of monetary compensation from the party alleged to have committed the wrongful act, the defendant.
Three Types of Torts
There are three types of torts: intentional torts, negligence torts, and strict liability torts. The type you pursue is determined by the circumstances and the laws of the jurisdiction in which you file the case. Let us take a look at all three.
An intentional tort occurs when one party commits a wrongful act against another party on purpose. Perhaps the most famous example of an intentional tort case is the wrongful death lawsuit filed against O.J. Simpson by the families of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman.
Though Simpson had been acquitted for the pair’s murders in criminal court, the families alleged in the civil suit that his intentional wrongful actions led to the two deaths. In response, they sought (and won) millions of dollars against Simpson to cover a host of alleged losses.
In a negligence tort, one party unintentionally harms another party by failing to uphold a reasonable standard of care required for the situation. A classic example of a negligence tort is a slip and fall on a wet floor in a grocery store. Rarely does a grocery store manager or employee intentionally create a dangerous situation in which a customer might fall and get hurt. But when such a situation emerges—when, for instance, somebody spills a gallon of water in an aisle—the store has a duty to protect customers from it and warn them of its existence. If it fails to do so and a customer gets hurt, the customer has grounds for a negligence tort case.
Strict Liability Torts
Strict liability torts require neither an intentional act nor negligence. Certain parties, particularly manufacturers, have strict liability when it comes to injuries or harm caused by the products they make. That means even if they exercise diligence and care in manufacturing a product and bring it to market, they can be held liable if the product ends up with a defect that harms a consumer. The injured party must demonstrate only that they were using the product for its intended purpose and that they did not materially alter it from its original form.