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The principles of tort law and compensation for victims

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The legal system helps victims get justice and compensation for harm they suffer at the hands of others. While it is easy to think of serious criminal offenses, a branch of law called tort law helps victims of civil crimes get compensation.

What are the main categories of tort law?

Lawyers that specialize in civil cases and general law handle a lot of tort law situations. If you pursue an online Juris Doctor degree from an institution such as Cleveland State University, you will learn how to navigate a variety of common torte law civil cases and get compensation for your clients. This program is one of just a few fully accredited Juris Doctor programs available online in the United States.

Tort law falls into three main categories. It is important to understand the difference and what types of cases fall under them.

  • Intentional torts

An act may fall under the category of intentional tort if the individual or business is believed to have intentionally committed or been an accessory to acts that cause injury or harm to a person or other entity.

Assault and battery is an example of a common intentional tort against an individual. While you may be thinking that these are criminal acts, there are situations where both a criminal and civil case are warranted. This is because victims can get better compensation for the acts committed against them if they pursue a civil case in addition to criminal prosecution.

Intentionally inflicting emotional distress or defamation against an individual or entity are other common examples of intentional tort. Emotional stress can be damaging to a person’s overall health and well-being. For instance, bullying or harassing someone in public or private is an intentional tort. Defamation cases involve an individual or entity spreading damaging rumors and information. This is sometimes called slander as well.

Trespassing on land or property is considered an intentional tort but can also be tried as a criminal offense. This is another case where the victims are more likely to get adequate financial compensation for damages to their property or reimbursement of their legal fees if they also pursue a civil case.

  • Negligence

Accepting responsibility when you are negligent is expected. Negligence is one of the most common reasons behind civil cases. A tort case based on negligence is based on the assumption that a person was not as careful with their actions as can be reasonably expected.

A good example of negligence is if you accidentally hit a cyclist with your car because you are not paying attention to the road.

One of the most common negligent acts is a collision with another vehicle. If you cause an accident, you are responsible for damages, including the medical bills of those you injured due to negligence. Civil suits for car accidents are common because liability insurance does not always cover the real-world costs of lost work time and medical expenses. If someone has insurance that covers up to $50,000, but the actual cost of medical care is $75,000, then the injured party will need to bring a civil suit against the accused to make up for the additional expenses.

Sometimes insurance companies will sue the negligent party to recoup the costs of any payouts they have to honor due to the negligent act.

Medical malpractice lawsuits also fall under tort law. In this instance, a medical professional may be sued if someone believes they acted in a negligent manner when caring for an individual. This can occur if protocols and care guidelines are not followed. For example, if a nurse or doctor administers the wrong medication or the wrong dose of medication to a patient or neglects to follow the agreed-on treatment plan, they may be sued for malpractice. This is a serious civil suit that can result in not only monetary compensation but temporary or permanent suspension of the guilty party’s credentials to practice as a doctor or nurse.

  • Strict liability

Strict liability comes into play when the accused is liable for injury or harm, but the accuser does not have to prove that the accused is guilty of negligence or direct fault. In many of these cases, the accused may have been very careful but still be held responsible for the outcome of an action that resulted in harm to another.

Common cases of strict liability include dog bites. If you own a dog and have it on a leash but it lunges and bites another person, you are still liable for the action even though you took some precautions. If your dog escapes from your fenced-in yard and causes harm to others or their property, then you are liable for the actions of the dog you are responsible for keeping contained. If applicable, an accuser may bring a civil suit against you for damages such as medical and veterinary bills, property damage and lost work time.

Companies that produce and sell products to the public are liable for their products on some level. Some products include disclaimers that notify purchasers of the level of responsibility and personal liability they take on themselves when using the product. These disclaimers absolve companies from some of the liability when people make personal choices in how and where they use a product.

If a product is flawed, then a company may be sued for damages caused by its product. For example, if a car washing product causes the paint of a vehicle to fade after four uses, then the company may be liable for repairs to the customer’s vehicle. As a result, they may be forced to stop selling the defective product.


Torte law is an important category of law because it helps victims of accidents and malpractice get the compensation they need to move on with their lives in the best way possible. Civil cases make up a large part of the cases in the court system. Solid knowledge of liability laws and what types of compensation are best to pursue can help lawyers provide the highest level of service to their clients and help them get the compensation they deserve.