The word “tort” comes from the Latin root, meaning harm, wrong, or twist. A tort action does not involve the government. In criminal law, the government acts as the prosecutor. Personal injury differs in that it involves a defendant whose actions caused harm, and a private plaintiff seeking compensation, typically monetary compensation.
Besides negligence, personal injury law covers a number of causes of action. One such cause would be an intentional tort, whereas the defendant purposefully acts to harm the plaintiff. Examples of intentional torts would include battery, trespassing, assault, or false imprisonment. In each case, these actions are intended to cause harm to a victim.
Strict liabilities are certain cases where the defendant may be liable, irrespective of exercising all manners to prevent the causing of harm. In these instances, the law will hold a defendant liable if, for example, someone is hurt while transporting hazardous material. In other words, even though the activity may be completely legal and thorough safety precautions have been taken, the defendant may still be strictly liable.
Defective products that cause injury are also common torts. In these cases, liability is based on the premise that a manufacturer has acted negligently by selling unsafely designed products. In some cases, plaintiffs hurt by a defective product may be able to sue under strict liability, if certain elements are met. In either case, product liability cases can become large class-action lawsuits.
Defendants typically use a few common defense theories in personal injury cases. For example, the defendant may argue that the plaintiff is partially or wholly responsible for his or her own injury due to not using due care. The defendant may also argue that the plaintiff gave implied permission to the defendant, whose action ended up causing harm. Another argument sometimes given, is the plaintiff assumed the risk” by voluntarily participating in a dangerous activity.
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