“A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case, he is justly accountable to them for the injury.” – John Stuart Mill, On Liberty
Have you ever wondered what the Personal Injury or Tort Law is and how it is structured? Based on the phrase “Personal Injury” it is reasonable to accept that the layman assumes that anyone who has been injured by a third-party can file a claim at the nearest civil court and get paid out a substantial amount of money. However, this narrative or opinion is not entirely accurate. Unfortunately, the subtleties of the modern marketing methodologies foster this belief implicitly and subconsciously.
Therefore, to correct this partially correct opinion, let’s first look at a definition of the Tort Law and then break it down further in more detail.
The Personal Injury or Tort Law: A succinct definition
According to USlegal.com and affirmed by Albrecht Law, Personal Injury Law is a set of laws that deals with any injury which is caused either intentionally or accidentally by a third party and their failure to exercise reasonable care.
It also includes actions that intentionally cause harm to a third party, as we will discuss in detail below. Finally, it must be noted that all Personal Injury cases are heard in the civil court while all criminal cases are heard in the criminal court. Finally, it stands to reason, as seen below, that an action that causes injury to another person can comprise of both civil and criminal elements.
The Tort Law and its categories
Essentially, the Personal Injury Law can be subdivided into three different categories:
Simply stated, a negligence tort is a “form of tort which evolved because some types of loss or damage occur between parties that have no contract between them, and therefore there is nothing for one party to sue the other over.”
Negligence torts include slip-and-fall accidents, motor vehicle crashes, medical negligence, and dog bite accidents.
A good example of a negligence tort is if an employee is injured in the workplace as a consequence of walking on slippery floors because there was no warning that the floors were wet, the employee can have a bona fide case against the employer because of negligence.
Furthermore, there is a difference between the deliberate and the accidental intention to cause injury to another person. If we further examine the example cited in the previous paragraph, the difference between the accidental and intentional will become clear.
The case of negligence can be proven if the floor cleaners forgot to indicate with clear signage that the floors are wet. However, intentional injury can be shown if the floor cleaners intentionally did not indicate that the floors were wet. As an aside, the question then becomes “how do you improve intent?” But, the answer to this question is out of the scope of this article.
On the other hand, an intentional tort is where a harmful action intentionally causes damage to a third-party.
Examples of intentional torts include assault and battery, fraud, emotional distress through defamation of character, and imprisonment for a crime not committed.
Strict Liability Torts
According to Wikipedia.com, a strict liability tort is where a person is “legally responsible for the consequences flowing from an activity even in the absence of fault or criminal intent on the part of the defendant.”
Examples of a strict liability tort include injuries caused by the use of a defective product, statutory rape, animal bites, and the involvement of hazardous activities without adequate warning.