Torts In American Law & Its Major Types

Torts In American Law & Its Major Types

What are the major kinds of Torts?

A tort is a civil wrong. The two major kinds of torts are negligence and intentional torts, which include assault, battery, trespass to land or chattels, conversion, and fraud (false representation). In general, an intentional tort involves intent by the person who committed the act. A plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff, that the defendant breached a duty owed to the plaintiff, and that the breach of any “duty” proximately caused injury or harm to the plaintiff.

Describe some major types of torts in American law!

The major categories of torts in American law are:  

  • Negligence
  • Intentional tort
  • Strict products liability
  • Nuisance
  • Libel defamation
  • Slander defamation
  • False imprisonment
  • IIED/”intentional infliction of emotional distress”

While a few states recognize a “data breach” tort, most do not. A few states recognize a misappropriation of publicity tort (invasion of privacy).  A handful of states have recognized the “Internet negligence” tort.  Thus, the following list is not comprehensive as to available torts in any state or jurisdiction.

Learn about Privacy Tort Law

How was Tort Law developed?

The basic purpose of tort law is to punish criminal wrongdoers. Tort law developed out of the English common-law system, and over the years various courts have interpreted it differently.  Some jurisdictions have a combination of both “common law” (based on court decisions) and “statute” (based on state laws or city ordinances).  The categories of torts listed above are current as of February 2018.

What is the difference between a tort and a crime?

A tort is distinct from a crime. A crime is an action for which the law imposes criminal liability and usually consists of conduct that interferes with society or involves harm to others, such as assault or theft.  As a civil wrong, it is usually (but not always) punished by monetary damages.

A tort, in contrast, is an action that causes harm to someone else and arises from non-criminal conduct; i.e., behavior that does not violate criminal law but maybe thought unjustified or unreasonable because of the harm caused to the plaintiff (see the case of “Cox v. Hopkins” below). The tort system is based on restitution to victims rather than punishment for wrongdoing, and unlike criminal law, requires a showing of intent.

In this context, “intent” means only that the actor performed an act that was not intentionally harmful; i.e., no action for punitive damages may be brought unless the defendant intended the harm.  With exceptions, an aggrieved plaintiff must prove all elements of a tort to recover in court, and documentation is required, usually by way of sworn testimony.

What are Invasive, objectionable, and tortious acts?

These acts are invasive and objectionable because they offend against personal security or property. In the case of negligence, it is the possibility of a tortious act that causes harm, but negligence is often so closely related to carelessness or fault that it has been placed in this category.

Torts can arise from intentional acts ( which are almost always intentional torts ) or from the invasion of property by land trespassers.  The only requirement for a “land trespass” tort is the unauthorized presence of a person or animal on another’s land.  If, however, that trespass harms another party, such as by harming livestock through negligence (or intent), then it becomes a tort.

In some jurisdictions, corporations may commit torts and are thus liable in tort; but in most cases, this corporate liability is a vicarious liability for the acts of employees and agents.  In other jurisdictions, such as most American states, corporations may be held liable in tort without regard to whether or not they have acted through an agent.

How are cases of “tortious interference” classified?

Cases of “tortious interference” with the contract are often classified under statutory law, rather than being considered a tort proper, but they are nonetheless an intentional tort since they arise from conduct that was intended to harm.  If the contract is breached, then it may be considered a breach of contract, but if someone else’s actions caused the breach, then it would be classified as a “tort”.

What is meant by “Quasi-criminal actions”?

In some jurisdictions and fields, torts can be considered offenses for which a private person can demand prosecution.  Such actions are also known as “civil” or “quasi-criminal “.

Common examples of Quasi-criminal actions

If you are searching for quasi-criminal actions, then this paragraph will give you the right and accurate quick answer to your query. Some common examples of quasi-criminal actions include the following:

  1. Copyright infringement
  2. Defamation (including libel and slander )
  3. Trespass to chattels
  4. Negligence
  5. Professional malpractice

What is meant by a Single-event testing?

For example, in his case “Cox v. Howard” (1872), English jurist Sir William Erle Cairns laid down a rule that has since come to be known as the “single-event test”, that is, if anyone incident of harm is sufficient to ground a tort claim, then each and every event in which the same defendant causes harm should be considered on its own. If this were not the case, it would be possible for a defendant who engaged in repeated acts of negligence (or intent) to escape liability even if the plaintiff was harmed each time.

However, in exceptional cases involving intentional wrongdoing, multiple acts of negligence or other repeated events may form what is known as a “continuing tort”, which can be ended only by an injunction. An example would be the act of repeatedly kicking someone when they are down.  No individual kick is sufficient to allow a claim, but if the same act causes harm each time then a court would be justified in granting an injunction.

Conclusion: The best remedy in the favor of Plaintiff

The remedy sought by the plaintiff is usually monetary compensation reflecting the extent of harm suffered.  This means that the judge or jury must assess the monetary value of the harm, taking into account such factors as economic loss and emotional distress.

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