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Everyone has the right to not be injured and to not have their property damaged. When someone is injured or their property is damaged, we refer to it as a tort.
Tort – your legal claim against me because I damaged your property, injured you, or damaged your reputation.
Society is more concerned about intentional acts than negligent acts – we do not want people going about wanting to cause injury or damage. For this reason, we allow a person who is intentionally injured to be compensated for the injury (compensatory damages) as well as extract an additional payment to punish the wrongdoer (punitive damages).
Did I cause the injury or damage, or was the harm caused by someone or something else? I am only responsible for the injury or damage I caused.
Some examples of Torts
Trespass is the tort (the legal wrong) of entering onto your property without your permission. I am not allowed to be on your property unless you have given me permission to be there. You may bring a legal action against me for trespassing onto your land.
Conversion is the tort of me taking your personal property and converting it to mine; that is, I stole your personal property. You are now suing me to return the property, or to pay you the value of the property, or if I damaged the property, to return it plus cash to compensate you for the damages.
Nuisance – my action is interfering with your use and enjoyment of your property. That is, the noise, odor, dust, light, or similar condition that I create on my property is detracting from the usefulness of your property. I am not trespassing on your property; I have not entered onto your property, but the results of my action are interfering with the use of your property. Fro example, the dust, noise, and bugs that arise from my business interfere with your use of your home and yard.
Assault is the tort of me making an attempt to injure you. It is assumed to be an intentional tort; that is, I intended – I wanted – to injure you but for some reason I failed at my attempt. For example, I swung to hit you but I missed. This is the tort of assault. My failure to hit you does not diminish the seriousness of my wanting and attempting to harm you.
Battery is the tort that I injured you; I not only swung at you but I did strike you. Battery can be intentional – I wanted to hurt you -- but battery can also be unintentional -- I did not plan to strike you; I did not want to strike you, but my carelessness resulted in you being hurt.
Wrongful death is the tort that I caused your death and your survivors are bringing a legal action against me for the loss you have incurred because the family member had been killed. Wrongful death could be an intentional tort (I murder your family member) or an unintentional tort (my careless driving led to an accident that resulted in the death of your family member).
Slander – my spoken statement was a lie and that lie harmed your reputation; similar to libel.Libel – my written statement was a lie and that lie harmed your reputation; similar to slander.
This material is intended for educational purposes
only. It is not a substitute for competent legal counsel. Seek appropriate
professional advice for answers to your specific questions.
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