Civil Litigation and Tort Law

Any injury to one person caused by another is called a tort. Torts, which forms the basis for tort law, may be malicious, such as a broken jaw resulting from a bar fight, or negligent, such as the misdiagnosis of a cancer patient. As a part of civil litigation, tort law is not intended to prove criminal liability; rather, it is designed to help victims win compensation (damages) for their lost wages, pain and suffering, medical bills, and other related costs. This means that if you have been the victim of a tort, you can file a civil lawsuit.

Civil litigation and tort law infographic

Why File a Civil Lawsuit?

There are four main goals of tort law. They include:

  • To win compensation for victims of personal injury
  • To legally obligate the person who harmed the victim to pay punitive damages
  • To prevent the recurrence of similar reckless or negligent action in the future
  • To defend the victims' legal rights

By filing a civil lawsuit, you may be able to reach these goals.

Filing Your Personal Injury Case

Depending on your state and your specific personal injury case, you may raise your tort on one of the following three grounds:


A tort of negligence claims that the defendant is to blame for the victim's personal injury because he failed to prevent it. For example, if a restaurant owner does not clearly mark a broken step at his establishment and a diner is injured, the restaurant owner may be found guilty of negligence. A personal injury attorney can help you determine if your case is one involving negligence.

Strict Liability

Strict liability holds legally liable any manufacturers who create and sell defective products that subsequently harm consumers who use them as directed. In general, torts of strict liability apply primarily to product liability law, a section of personal injury. For example, if the tire on a driver's car suddenly bursts due to a defect and the driver is injured, the tire manufacturer is to blame and may be required to compensate the victim. This holds true even if the manufacturer was unaware of the defect, as strict liability applies even if negligence and malice aren't involved.

Intentional Wrong

If someone knows his actions will cause harm but follows through with them anyway, he is committing a tort of intentional wrong. Intentional wrongs are punishable by jail time (if criminal charges are applicable and pressed) or by an order to financially compensate a victim for damages (if a civil lawsuit is filed). In some cases, both criminal and civil charges will be filed. For example, former football star O.J. Simpson faced criminal charges for allegedly murdering his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her companion, but he was found not guilty. However, he lost a civil lawsuit and was ordered to pay millions to the victims' families in punitive damages.

If you have experienced a tort of negligence and would like to file a civil personal injury lawsuit, it would be in your best interest to find a personal injury lawyer in your area who can help you build your case.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

To learn more about tort law, negligence, intentional wrong, damages, and how to file a civil lawsuit, contact a personal injury lawyer in your area.

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