What are the characteristics of the tort liability law and tort claims?


Under the tort liability law, also known as "the law of negligence", a person is considered liable for committing a tort, if they have failed to satisfy the standard of care - a standard determined by the behavior of a reasonably prudent individual.

The tortfeasor's actions are measured against the actions of a reasonably prudent person, and they are found to be below-standard, the individual is guilty of negligence.

The tort liability law applies mainly to unintentional torts. In the case of intentional torts and strict liability torts, the defendant is found guilty regardless of negligence. If a wrongful act is done deliberately, the possibility of negligence is ruled out automatically. In strict/absolute liability, the person responsible for causing harm is found guilty of wrongdoing, regardless of whether they are negligent or not.

Characteristics of Tort Claims

In order for a victim of a tort to file a legal claim in tort and receive compensation for their injuries or property damage, the following four elements of negligence must be satisfied:

  1. There must be a duty imposed by law for the protection of other individuals against harm. Without the existence of this legal duty of care, the plaintiff cannot collect damages.
  2. Another requirement that has to be met in tort claims is the breach of the duty of care. If the tortfeasor falls short of meeting the standard of the legal duty of care for others, whether by wrongdoing, or by failure to act, then the 'breach of duty" requirement is satisfied.
  3. Evidence of incurred harm has to be provided by the claimant. In order to satisfy this requirement, the claimant has to have suffered bodily injuries or property damages and furnish proof thereof. There are a number of damages that the plaintiff can be compensated by:
    • Compensatory damages - including special damages and general damages - reimburse the plaintiff for losses that can be documented, and for losses that cannot be measured, such as pain and suffering.
    • Punitive damages - punish the tortfeasor by making an example out if them.
  4. There must be a proximate cause relationship between the breach of duty and damages inflicted by it.
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