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Chapter 18: Torts A Civil Wrong

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1 Chapter 18: Torts A Civil Wrong
LAW Chapter 18: Torts A Civil Wrong

2 What is a civil wrong? In criminal law, a wrong is called a crime
1. The wrongdoer is prosecuted and punished by the state, or federal government In civil law, a wrong is called a tort 1. The wrongdoer is sued in civil court through a civil action or lawsuit

3 Civil Wrong continued:
The rules that govern civil wrongs are called tort law Our Tort laws are derived from English Common Law

4 Who are the parties to a civil action?
The harmed individual becomes the plaintiff in a lawsuit The wrongdoer becomes the defendant in a lawsuit The plaintiff seeks to win a judgment against the defendant If the plaintiff is successful, the defendant will be forced to compensate the plaintiff for injuries

5 What types of injuries fall under tort law?
These injuries involve pain and suffering which can be: 1. Physical 2. Emotional, or 3. Damage to one’s good character A judgment against the defendant is usually monetary and is called “paying money damages”

6 When do torts occur? Torts occur whenever a person causes injury to:
1. Another person 2. Another’s property, and/or 3. Another’s reputation Tort law provides the injured party with a remedy 1. A remedy is something to make up for what is lost

7 Where does the idea of liability come from?
Tort law establishes standards of care that society expects from people These laws require all of us to act with reasonable care toward people and their property A failure to exercise reasonable care can result in legal liability

8 How does tort law work? Tort law deals with two (2) basic questions:
1. Who is responsible (or liable) for the harms caused by human activities? 2. How much should the responsible party have to pay?

9 What kinds of human activity can be sources of harm?
Almost any activity can be a source of liability, such as: 1. Driving a car 2. Operating a business 3. Speaking 4. Writing 5. Using property

10 What are damages? Whenever a person is physically or emotionally injured, someone will bear the cost of the harm 1. Broken bones will create medical bills that must be paid - A hospitalized person will miss work and may lose earnings - Damaged property will cost money to repair

11 Damages continued: Emotional suffering may also be a cost of an injury
1. The emotional suffering may even be to a 3rd party - No quality of life in a marriage

12 What is legal responsibility?
Whenever a person purposely or carelessly causes injury to another, the wrongdoer will bear the cost of the harm Legal responsibility is different from moral responsibility A person may be morally at fault, but not civilly liable, or A person may be civilly liable and not morally at fault

13 What is a settlement? Tort law provides a legal process for injured persons to recover damages The parties can meet and reach a settlement Approximately 90% of tort cases are settled without a trial However, if an agreement can’t be reached, the elected party can sue in court

14 What is an award? When the plaintiff wins a judgment against the defendant in a civil action, the end result is usually a payment for damages This payment is called an award However, the award is not always about money

15 Are there different types of awards for damages?
There are several types of awards: 1. Compensatory Damages – These include medical and hospital bills, and pain and suffering 2. Punitive Damages – Money awarded to the plaintiff to punish the defendant for malicious, willful, or outrageous acts, and serve as a warning to others not to engage in such conduct

16 Awards continued: 3. Nominal Damages – A small amount of money such as $1.00. They are symbolic awards of money to recognize that the defendant was wrong even though injury was minimal 4. Injunction – A court order requiring a person to do, or refrain from doing a particular act

17 Awards continued: 5. Cease and Desist Order – A court order to stop some illegal or deceptive activity

18 Are there different types of torts?
Tort liability exists for three major categories of conduct: 1. Intentional Wrongs – when a person acts with the intent to injure a person and/or his/her property 2. Negligence – when a person fails to use reasonable care and an injury occurs to a person and/or his/her property (an unintentional tort)

19 Types of tort liability continued:
3. Strict Liability – Applies to activities that are so dangerous that they pose a serious risk of harm, even with the utmost care Three groups of people face strict liability 1. Owners of dangerous animals 2. People who engage in highly dangerous activities (demolition experts)

20 Types of tort liability continued:
3. Manufacturers and sellers of defective consumer products

21 What is negligence? Negligence is a very broad term that deals with many kinds of wrongful conduct and is defined as: 1. The failure to exercise a “reasonable amount of care” 2. In either doing, or failing to do 3. What a “reasonably prudent person” would do, or not do “under like circumstances” 4. Resulting in harm or injury to another

22 Negligence continued:
Different types of wrongful conduct do not have individual names, but each have the following in common: 1. In order for the plaintiff to win a negligence action against a defendant, four (4) elements must be proven by a preponderance of evidence

23 What are the four (4) elements?
Duty – That the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff. Everyone has a duty toward everyone else in society. This is a duty to act reasonably and is referred to as the “reasonable person standard” Breach of Duty – That the defendant violated or breached that duty by their conduct

24 Elements continued: Causation – That the defendant’s conduct caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Causation includes “cause in fact” and “proximate cause” 1. If the harm would not have occurred without the wrongful act, the act is the cause in fact 2. Proximate cause must show that there is a close connection between the wrongful act and the harm caused

25 Elements continued: Damages – That the plaintiff suffered actual damages

26 Are there defenses to negligence claims?
Even thought the elements of negligence can be proven, the defendant can raise a valid legal defense: 1. Contributory Negligence – When the plaintiff’s own negligence contributed to the harm suffered - The plaintiff was warned that he/she should not dive into the above ground pool because it is shallow

27 Defenses continued: In situations where both parties were at fault, neither party can recover damages This defense has been eliminated in most states due to it’s unfairness 1. Comparative Negligence – This means that the loss will be divided according to the degree to which each person is at fault

28 Defenses continued: - One person causes a two vehicle accident. The second person suffers injuries because he/she was not wearing their seat belt. In this case, the damages would be reduced For example if the award were for $10k and driver #2 was found to be 10% at fault, the award would be reduced by $1k

29 Defenses continued: 3. Assumption of Risk – This is when a person voluntarily encounters a known danger and decides to accept the risk of that danger - A “swim at your own risk” sign is displayed at the beach for the hours between 6:00pm and 9:00am

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