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Definition of Tort

A tort occurs when one person injures or commits a harmful action against another person causing that person loss. Torts do not have to be intentional, but they can be caused by any action, including negligence. They are a "breach of civil duty". Common torts can be caused by drunk or reckless driving, violations of privacy, product liability cases, copyright infringement, toxic torts and defamation torts.

The plaintiff in a tort case may file a personal injury claim and attempt to collect compensation for their loss. The most common tort liability is negligence. To prove negligence the plaintiff must prove 1) they were owed a duty by the defendant; 2) the duty was breached; 3) the breach of duty caused the accident, loss or damages; and 4) the plaintiff actually suffered loss. Plaintiffs who can prove the elements of their tort may receive compensation for monetary and non-monetary losses including: medical expenses, property damage, lost wages and pain and suffering.

Unlike a criminal trial where the burden of proof is "beyond a reasonable doubt", most civil cases only require proof of the defendant's guilty "through a preponderance of evidence". Civil trials, like criminal trials, are generally settled prior to trial.

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