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What is a tort?

Las Vegas civil lawsuits that spring from car accidents, premises liability or other types of personal injury are all tort actions. A tort, as explained by the Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute, is defined as a civil wrong that is legally recognized as grounds for civil litigation. Torts are allowed as grounds for lawsuits not only to provide fair compensation to victims, but also to act as a deterrent for socially unacceptable behavior.

There are three general categories of torts:  

  • Intentional. These involve defendants did know or who should have known that their actions or inactions would result in harm. For example, if one person punches another, the person who was struck could have grounds for an intentional tort action.
  • Negligent. These involve defendants who behaved in an unreasonably safe manner, which in turn caused a wrong. Someone injured in a car accident caused by a speeding driver, for example, may be able to bring a negligent tort lawsuit.
  • Strict liability. These are defined by the damage caused, not by the actions or intentions of the defendant. Strict liability is often involved in products liability cases, in which manufacturers are held liable for their defective products. 

Defendants in tort actions may be required to pay damages to redress the harm they caused. These damages can include the plaintiff’s present financial expenses, such as medical bills. Compensation can also address future losses, such as the plaintiff’s reduced earning potential.

Torts fall under the domain of state law, and can be formed through common law (i.e. court decisions) and statutes.  

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