What is a tort?
In some cases, torts are tasty French pastries. Sadly, the torts at issue in this article are decidedly less delicious. A “tort” is any act that causes harm to someone’s person, property or even reputation. In Tennessee law, one person (the plaintiff) can sue another person (the defendant) for committing a tort. Successful plaintiffs who win their tort case can receive compensation from the defendant. This compensation, known as damages, is usually in the form of money and is meant to make up for the harm done to the plaintiff.
Three types of torts
Torts generally fall into three main categories: intentional torts, torts based on negligence and torts based on strict liability.
Intentional: Intentional torts occur when harm to another person was committed on purpose. Examples include assault, battery, trespass and defamation: wrongful acts that the defendant knew or should have known would lead to harm due to their action or inaction.
Negligent: Even if the defendant did not set out to harm the plaintiff, he or she can still be liable due to the theory of negligence. Negligent torts occur when the defendant’s actions were unreasonably unsafe or careless. Most personal injury cases, including car accident lawsuits or medical malpractice cases, are based on negligence.
Strict liability: The third type of tort case includes those that are based on the notion of strict liability. This variety does not depend on the carelessness of the defendant, but instead results in liability simply if the plaintiff’s harm was caused by the defendant. Examples include certain product liability cases where no amount of care on the defendant’s part can be used to avoid liability.
Most people understand that personal injury cases, as the name implies, concern actual physical injuries to people. While this is true much of the time, it’s not always the case. A tort case does not require a physical injury for there to be legal liability. Anyone who suffers injury to their property or their financial interests can also bring about a tort case, even if their physical health was not harmed.