What Is a Tortfeasor?

A tortfeasor is an individual or entity that has been found to have committed a civil offense that injures another party.

Such disputes are resolved in the branch of the justice system that is known as tort law. The objective of tort law is to provide a remedy for damage suffered by one party and caused by the action (or inaction) of another.

Key Takeaways

  • In a strict liability tort, a tortfeasor may be found liable for damage that was not intentional.
  • In an intentional tort, the tortfeasor is found to have willfully caused the damage or injury.
  • In a negligent tort, the tortfeasor is found to be liable for failing to take proper care.

Understanding a Tortfeasor

A plaintiff in a lawsuit is a person or entity that claims to have been damaged by the actions of another party. The plaintiff is seeking redress in the form of recovery of some or all of the costs of the damage.

In some cases, more than one party may be found responsible for the tort. In such cases, each party is a joint tortfeasor. The court will determine how much damage or loss each party is responsible for. The court may divide up the responsibility for reparations according to the proportion of the damage each party was responsible for.

Finding Responsibility

A tort is defined as an act or an omission that causes harm to another person or entity.

A tortfeasor may have committed a number of civil offenses. They include negligence, fraud, trespassing, and emotional harm. A corporation, for example, may be held liable for a faulty product that causes harm to its users.

Small claims courts were established to allow a plaintiff to pursue a judgment for a claim against a tortfeasor for up to a specified amount with little delay or cost.

Torts fall into three main categories, each with its own standards:

  • Strict liability torts seek redress for damage caused unintentionally by another party who is, nonetheless, responsible. If a helicopter pilot makes a crash landing in your garden, the pilot may be responsible for the damage even though no malicious intent or neglect was involved.
  • Intentional torts are committed by tortfeasors who understood that their conduct could result in damage to other parties. Even acts that involve violence can be pursued as intentional torts by victims who seek compensation that cannot be found in a criminal proceeding.
  • Negligent torts are caused by a tortfeasor who caused an injury by failing to take reasonable care. A person who breaks an ankle falling on ice outside the door of a store might seek redress based on negligence by the store proprietor.

The Role of Insurance

Insurance claims are usually pursued under civil law, and thus insurance policies may be responsible for reimbursing tortfeasors for damages they are forced to pay. Insurance companies that indemnify their policyholders are required to defend them against civil claims.

The amount recovered by the plaintiff may include reimbursement for lost wages, medical expenses, or related losses.

Every state has its own tort law, including small claims courts that are established that allow citizens to pursue justice without great expense and delay.

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