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What Are the Different Areas of Tort Law?

A preventable medical accident may lead to a negligence tort.
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  • Written By: Florence J. Tipton
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 02 October 2014
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Tort law is legal protection against personal injury. The injury may result in one party causing physical harm or financial hardship to another. Under tort law, an individual or corporation is typically liable for the injury based on two areas: intentional — deliberate actions meant to cause harm — or negligent — harm that occurs regardless of intention. Judgments reached in a tort case generally seek to restore the injured party through court-awarded compensation for current and future losses.

The different categories of tort law — intentional and negligent — also have different subcategories that may apply to a particular case. These subcategories may relate to matters such nuisance, defamation, economy, and statute. Laws governing a region usually determine which subcategory applies and may vary slightly across jurisdictions.

Intentional tort law typically follows three different subcategories. Nuisance occurs when a damaging activity is harmful to person and fits the legal definition of a nuisance. Defamation is making a statement against a person without evidence to support the claim. Economic tort refers to financial loss from actions that sabotage business relationships.

Violation of a nuisance tort law generally involves actions that harm one or more persons. A private nuisance usually causes unreasonable interruption of privacy rights on personal property. A public nuisance occurs when the action affects the public at-large.

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Making false statements verbally or in writing about a person may qualify as defamation. The law typically applies when no evidence exists to support the statements. In addition, the false statements cause a person to suffer some type of loss or damage to his reputation.

There are two different legal terms for defamation. Slander refers to knowingly making verbal statements about someone that are false and cause damage. Libel occurs when a person makes a written statement that is false and the intent is to cause harm to another person.

Economic tort law is legal protection from loss of financial wealth from certain types of business practices. This type of tort usually relates to business practices that may damage business relations. Legislation that coincides with economic tort may also involve regulations on a business's competitiveness.

Injury from a vehicle accident, medical mishap, or a product malfunction may lead to negligence tort. Regardless of the intent of the action, a person suffers harm from the misjudgment of another party. Most negligence laws require proof that the accused failed to show due care. In other words, an individual or corporation should have known an injury might occur, but failed to act in preventing the injury.

Negligence tort may also involve a statutory claim, which generally relates to consumer protection legislation. This type of legislation requires corporations to inform consumers of potential safety hazards in using a product. Statutory tort law holds the corporation responsibility for identifying safety hazards, while making an effort to eliminate the dangers. A statutory claim could hold a corporation liable for injuries.

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