Tort Law

What is the 'Tort Law'

Tort law covers most civil lawsuits. Essentially, every claim that arises in civil court, with the exception of contractual disputes, falls under tort law. The concept of this area of law is to redress a wrong done to a person and provide relief from the wrongful acts of others, usually by awarding monetary damages as compensation.


Tort law can be split into three categories: negligent torts, intentional torts and strict liability torts. Negligent torts encompass harm done to people generally through the failure of another to exercise a certain level of care, usually defined as a reasonable standard of care. Accidents are a standard example of negligent torts. Intentional torts, on the other hand, refer to harms done to people intentionally by the willful misconduct of another, such as assault, fraud and theft.

Strict liability torts, unlike negligence and intentional torts, are not concerned with the culpability of the person doing the harm. Instead, strict liability focuses on the act itself. If someone or some entity commits a certain act, for example, producing a defective product, then that person or company is responsible for the damages from that act, regardless of the level of care exercised or their intentions.

Liability Tort Example

In February 2016, a self-driving car made by Google crashed into a bus in Mountain View, California. The car sensed a group of sandbags positioned around a storm drain and swerved into another lane to avoid them, slamming into the side of a public transit bus. This is the first reported case of a self-driving car causing an accident, not just being a part of one.

According to liability tort law, drivers can seek compensation from a manufacturer for a faulty piece of a car, usually an airbag or a tire. However, this liability tort now extends to self-driving cars, and Google can be found liable for the damages.

Negligence Tort Example

Amy Williams filed a negligence lawsuit against Quest Diagnostics and its subsidiary Athena Diagnostics for the wrongful death of her son, Christian Millare. In 2007, Athena Diagnostics misclassified a mutation in Millare's gene, which directly resulted in seizure and death in 2008. On June 27, 2016, Quest Diagnostics filed a motion to dismiss the case under the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims.

Intentional Tort Example

An example of an intentional tort is the ruling between Gawker and Hulk Hogan on March 18, 2016. Hogan was awarded $140 million due to intentional tort law, since it was deemed that Gawker intentionally invaded his privacy to obtain video evidence of a private act.