Tort law is the name given to a body of law that addresses, and provides remedies for, civil wrongs that do not arise out of contract. Tort law defines what constitutes a legal injury, and establishes the circumstances under which one person may be held liable for another’s injury. Torts include both intentional acts and accidents.
In tort law, potential “injuries” are defined broadly. Injury does not just mean a physical injury. “Injuries” in tort law reflect any invasion of any number of individual “interests.” This includes interests recognized in other areas of law, such as property rights. Actions for nuisance and trespass to land can arise from interfering with rights in real property. Conversion and trespass to chattels can protect interference with movable property. Interests in prospective economic advantages from contracts can also be injured and become the subject of tort actions. A number of situations caused by parties in a contractual relationship may nevertheless be tort rather than contract claims, such as breach of fiduciary duty.
Tort law may also be used to compensate for injuries to a number of other individual interests that are not recognized in property or contract law, and are intangible. This includes an interest in freedom from emotional distress, privacy interests, and reputation.
Personal injury lawsuits are regularly filed by individuals or groups who have been injured as a result of another party’s negligence or wrongdoing. These wrongs, which are civil wrongs because they fall under the umbrella of civil law, are called torts. The area of law that covers torts and lawsuits filed for torts is called tort law.
Most any lawsuit filed for a personal injury is going to fall under tort law. In tort cases, the main goal is to collect money, also called damages, to recover from lost income, to account for pain and suffering, and to reimburse any medical expenses that the victim has incurred as a result of their injury. In a few personal injury lawsuits, the plaintiffs seek something other than money, sometimes imprisonment for the defendant, although this is rare.
A personal injury attorney will be able to help you navigate tort law. There are three kinds of torts – intentional, negligent and strict liability torts – and your personal injury attorney’s first step will be to determine under what category your injury falls. For example, an intentional tort is cause by someone’s clear intention to harm, and creates a much more black and white case than a negligent lawsuit does.
If you’ve been injured by a faulty or defective product, or shoddy manufacturing, your personal injury attorney will help you file a lawsuit for a strict liability tort that will target the manufacturer of the defective product. In this case, your personal injury attorney may even try to contact other victims and file a class action suit against an irresponsible company.
Rewards in tort lawsuits vary. Plaintiffs can sue for wages they have already lost, and may also estimate and sue for wages that will be lost in the future due to their injuries. Often times injured plaintiffs have to miss a significant amount of work to recover from their injury, and may also find that their injury prevents them from returning to their job. For example, a carpenter injured on a construction job due to a contracting company’s negligence may hire a personal injury attorney to sue for money to provide him with job training if he is forced to give up his construction career due to his injury.
Professional Liability. This area includes both traditional medical and legal malpractice claims, with the accompanying issues of potential insurance coverage disputes relative to both indemnity and defense of claims and litigation as well as the right to control settlement decisions, whether by consent or otherwise. Both claimants or plaintiffs, and potential and actual defendants in such claims, typically have much at risk, both financially as well as professionally. An experienced mediator in these fields can help the parties determine, hopefully early in the process, whether a mediated settlement agreement makes more sense than protracted and expensive litigation. At a minimum, an early effort at ADR in these cases is well worth the minimal time and expense involved to assist the parties in examining and assessing their relative positions going forward. In addition, professional litigation claims and litigation against both insurance and real estate agents and agencies has been increasing significantly in the last several years. Again, these types of claims and litigation are not as common or prevalent in number as general liability claims and litigation. As a result, a mediator experienced in these types of professional liability claims and litigation offers a tremendous advantage to both sides of any such disputes in determining the potential and actual settlement value of such claims and litigation, often long before the years and costs of protracted litigation can readily exceed the disputed amounts involved.
Insurance Coverage. Disputes concerning or arising from insurance coverage claims and litigation, on multiple levels, are often both the source of either independent or parallel litigation and impediments to the effective and timely resolution of underlying disputes, claims or litigation. Whether they exist at the initial consumer or commercial level(s), umbrella, excess, multiple tiered layers or even at the reinsurance level, these disputes often require both extensive knowledge of the interaction between various levels of insurance and/or reinsurance coverage, as well as the participation of multiple parties’ representatives in order to effectively focus all of the different and often times competing interests necessary to effectively resolve claims and litigation extending over such a broad range or spectrum of the different insured risks and interests involved.
There is simply no substitute for experience when dealing with such complex and interrelated issues and interests such as these. With decades of personal injury, professional liability and coverage analysis experience, as well as litigating the underlying claims from both sides of the fence, which we bring to you the essentials to resolving these complex claims. Let us help you and your clients, whether they be insurers, insured’s, or claimants and plaintiffs, determine whether mediation or arbitration can be utilized as an early means of resolving such complicated disputes before they become consumed by and drawn out on the litigation treadmill.