Legally defined, tort lawsuits are a “body of rights, obligations, and remedies that is applied by courts in civil proceedings to provide relief for persons who have suffered harm from the wrongful acts of others.”
Like most legal terminology, the word “tort” originates from the Latin language. Tortus, which translates as “twisted,” is the biggest category of civil litigation, and occurs when a negligent act unfairly causes someone else to suffer loss or harm. Negligence plays a key role in determining whether or not a legal action is a tort.
To win a tort case, three elements that must be established in a claim include:
While torts can include lawsuits stemming from criminal activity (...known as an “intentional tort”), civil wrongs like negligence, premises liability, and wrongful death are the driving factors behind a claim most of the time.
Other common types of tort lawsuits include:
How Tort Law Differs From Criminal
Although crimes may be torts also, there are differences between a criminal charge and a tort. For one, a tort does not seek to sentence the defendant to jail time or fines, but rather makes the defendant legally obligated to pay the claimant the decided upon amount of monetary compensation for harm they caused.
Torts focus on monetary compensation for damages, while criminal cases seek punishment under the law.
Second, tort lawsuits have a lower burden of proof than criminal cases. In criminal trials, the prosecution must establish proof beyond all reasonable doubt in order to convict the defendant. In contrast, torts operate under a “preponderance of evidence” system, which means that the balance of proof must weigh in the claimant’s favor to win a case. In other words, the proposition is more likely true than not true.
Some actions are considered to be both a crime and a tort simultaneously. For example, if a person punches another person, leading to injuries, they can be subject to both criminal prosecution and a civil claim for damages. This is an example of where criminal law and tort can overlap.
Colorado Tort Lawyers
At The Babcock Law Firm, we have years of experience winning tort cases for victims suffering from the effects of car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, drunk driving accidents, pedestrian & bicycle accidents, slip & falls, or wrongful death of a loved one.
In tort cases, it is essential you receive legal representation from an attorney who fully understands the differences between torts and criminal law, and is equipped to handle the lengthy process of proving negligence.