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Chapter 16 Street Law Text pp

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1 Chapter 16 Street Law Text pp. 214-231
Torts: A Civil Wrong Chapter 16 Street Law Text pp

2 Civil Law- Law that regulates relations between individuals or groups of individuals
Tort- A CIVIL wrong Plaintiff- The person or company, harmed by a defendant, that sues someone Defendant- Person accused of committing a crime or one being sued Judgment- Courts decision in a CIVIL case Damages- Money asked for and paid by court order to a plaintiff for injuries or losses suffered A tort may also be a crime, but remember that the burden of proof for a civil case is much less than for a criminal case. Beyond a Reasonable Doubt- Burden of Proof for a Criminal Case, there can be no doubt in a jurors mind when the find a defendant guilty [innocent until proven guilty] Preponderance of the Evidence- Burden of Proof for a Civil Case, evidence says the defendant probably did it

3 The Idea of Liability Liable- Legal responsibility for an act
Tort law deals with 2 basic questions Who should be liable for harm caused by human activities? How much should the responsible person have to pay? Almost any activity can be a source of harm and therefore tort liability. It seems in today’s world everyone is afraid of being sued. Understand just because you are sued, it does not mean you will lose the case. Many people try to work out issues without going to court. Tort law also establishes standards of car that society expects from people, the law requires us to act with reasonable care toward people and their property As a result the person harmed may sue the person who acted unreasonably.

4 The Idea of Liability cont.
Whenever a person or property is injured, someone has to pay for the costs associated with the injury Tort law the is concerned with determining who must pay and how much they are liable. Not all injuries are totally the fault of the defendant, sometimes the plaintiff is partly responsible. In the case of accidents no one is at fault. Remedy- Something to make up for harm done, ordered by the court in a civil case Liability- Legal responsibility for an act A person can be morally at fault for an injury to another or property, but there may be no legal fault If you commit adultery it is obviously morally wrong but rarely can the injured [spouse] party sue for damages Settlement- Mutual agreement between parties in a Civil law suit, prior to final judgment, usually to avoid a trial, a settlement is legally binding 90 % of all civil cases end with a settlement versus going to court



7 The Idea of Torts Since the 1400’s English courts have dealt with Torts. Tort law is based on Common Law- Law made by judges through court decisions [precedents] Tort law is also based on Statutes- Laws passed by the Legislative Branch federally or at a state level Tort law is often at the forefront of public controversy. It is closely related to economic and political policy decisions. Tort cases often involve a clash of values and interest, thus arriving at a fair solution is difficult.


9 Types of Torts Intentional Wrong- Tort done with purpose to harm a person or property Ali is mad a Tom so she smashes his car window Negligence- Failure to use a reasonable amount of care resulting in harm to a person or property A speeding driver hits a pedestrian Strict Liability- The legal responsibility for damage or injury even if you are not negligent 3 groups usually face Strict Liability Owners of dangerous animals People who engage in highly dangerous activities Manufacturers and sellers of defective consumer products Construction worker drops a brick on your car Not all injures to you or your property will lead to a recovery under tort law. Harmful behavior may not be a tort, the person may have a defense, or the person may not be able to pay for damages.


11 Taking Your Case to Court
In a Civil Case the injured party [plaintiff] brings a law suit against the person that caused the harm [defendant] Standard of Proof- Amount of evidence needed to win a case. Is much less in a Civil Case, simply more than 50% of the evidence must show that the defendant was liable. A person can never go to jail for committing a Tort, only a Crime can send a person to jail. Remember some torts are also crimes, but must be tried in separate cases.

12 Who Can be Sued? Almost anyone can be sued, it does not necessarily mean they will lose. Individuals, groups, organizations, businesses, and even units of government can be sued. Plaintiffs may sue multiple defendants looking for the one with Deep Pockets- Defendant with the most money, or best ability to pay for damages Children can be sued, but to recover damages from a Minor- A person under the age [18 usually] a plaintiff must show the the child acted unreasonably for their age and experience. Because most minors do NOT have deep pockets, parents or guardians are sued. Some people or groups are Immune- protected from being sued because of certain situations Parents generally cannot be sued by their children A spouse generally cannot be sued by their spouse The State and Federal Government cannot be sued unless they Waive- Give up their right to be sued “The King can do no Wrong” Federal Tort Claims Act makes the government liable for negligent acts by employees


14 Who Can be Sued cont. Sometimes a group of people will bring a lawsuit against a person or company. Class Action [law suit]- Lawsuit brought by one or more persons on behalf of a larger group [class] When hiring an attorney remember there are hourly fees [pay by the hour ($150+)], retainer fees [hold services or down payment] , by the case fees [flat rate], and Contingency Fees- An attorney's fee which is a percentage of the amount of a settlement [usually between 30-40%] “We don’t get paid unless we win” Contingency Fees are always a “gamble” because the Plaintiff needs to ensure the settlement is large enough so that the “Fee” does not actually “cut” into the money needed for damages A settlement or remedy is a one time “deal” you cannot usually go back and seek more damages at a later time



17 Insurance Americans buy billions of dollars of liability insurance every year to ensure that if there are damages the defendants insurance will cover those damages. Usually “negotiations” and cases are handled by the insurance companies and the actual injured party and liable party are not involved. Contract- Agreement between parties Liability Insurance- Coverage that pays for injuries to other people or damage to property if the insured is responsible for an accident Premiums-Payments made for insurance coverage Malpractice- Failure to meet acceptable standards of practice, usually causing a lawsuit Rarely if ever will liability insurance cover Intentional harm


19 Insuring a Car Liability insurance on a car generally has 3 limits
A limit on injuries per person A limit on total injuries to all persons A limit on property damage per accident 100/300/50 policy means that there is $100K limit on injuries per person, $300K limit on total injuries, and a $50K limit on property damage, because of this you need to make sure you are covered totally, if you are not the injured party can sue you for damages Medical Coverage- Pays for your own medical bills resulting form accidents in which you were driving, and for your passengers regardless of fault Collision Coverage- Pays for damage to your car, even if the accident was your fault [usually pays up to value of car] Deductible- Amount insured agrees to pay toward repairs before the insurance company pays Comprehensive Coverage- Pays for damage or loss from other than collisions Uninsured Motorist Coverage- Protects you from other drives who do not have insurance No-Fault Insurance- Your policy pays for personal injury regardless of fault for you, but you usually give up the right to sue



22 Workers’ Compensation
Workers compensation works to automatically compensate, pay, employees who are injured on the job Employers contribute to a state fund or buy insurance to cover workers’ comp Workers that are injured do not have to go to court to gain benefits, even if they were at fault [like slipping on oil on the floor] usually they are paid 2/3rds of their salary, and are compensated for the injury based on a scale set by the state or insurance company. The scale also gives a general timeline for recovery, most employers request verification of the injury from a doctor. In exchange for this agreement workers usually give up the right to sue their employer for the injury Most states limit the benefits for employees that fail to follow safety guidelines or may deny benefits if the employee was impaired by drugs or alcohol Workers’ Compensation is the Exclusive Remedy- only compensation for on the job injuries, in most states


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