A tort is an act of civil wrongdoing committed by one party against another, resulting in loss or harm to the victim. The injured party, known as the claimant, has the right to seek damages or other forms of relief through legal action. Torts are primarily established through common law, although there are also statutory offences that may qualify as torts.
Tortious conduct can be carried out by individuals, corporations, or public entities, and in some cases, the same behaviour that constitutes a tort may also amount to a crime. However, it is worth noting that while criminal proceedings are initiated by the state, tort actions are brought by private individuals, companies, or public entities seeking compensation for damages or an injunction to halt the tortious behaviour.
It is important to note that contractual disputes are different from torts.
There are several types of torts, including:
- Negligence, which occurs when an individual suffers harm as a result of another party’s failure to exercise reasonable care.
- Defamation, which is the act of damaging someone’s reputation through the dissemination of false information.
- False imprisonment, which involves the unlawful detention of an individual, depriving them of their freedom of movement.
In tort cases, plaintiffs often seek damages as a form of compensation. Damages refer to a monetary award that is intended to compensate a party for the loss of property or rights, as well as any expenses, losses, or pain and suffering resulting from an injury. The purpose of damages is to restore the plaintiff to the position they would have been in had the tort not occurred.
To be awarded damages, a plaintiff must demonstrate that they have suffered a loss or injury as a direct result of the tort. This may require the presentation of medical records, financial records, or other evidence that demonstrates the impact of the tort.
The basis upon which damages are awarded can vary depending on factors such as the type of injury or loss suffered, the severity of the tort, and the behaviour of the parties involved.
Loss in tort law refers to any harm, damage, or suffering that arises from the commission of a tort. For instance, in cases of personal injury, the loss may manifest as an inability to work due to the injury sustained. In cases of defamation, the loss may take the form of missed job opportunities resulting from harm to one’s reputation.
Injury can take on various forms in tort law, including physical and psychological injuries. Moreover, an injury may result from an aggravation of a pre-existing condition or injury. It’s important to note that for a psychological injury to qualify for damages, it must be a recognised psychiatric condition. Simply feeling upset or distressed is not sufficient grounds for a claim for damages.
In certain circumstances, a plaintiff in a tort case may seek an injunction to prevent the tort from occurring again or continuing. An injunction is a court-ordered directive that prohibits a party from engaging in an action that jeopardizes the legal rights of another party (prohibitory injunction). Alternatively, an injunction may require the party to take specific actions, such as restitution (mandatory injunction).
There are two forms of liability for torts: personal liability and vicarious liability.
Personal liability refers to an individual being held responsible at law for an act or omission committed by him or her personally.
Vicarious liability is the legal responsibility of an employer for the actions or failures of their employees during the time and context of their employment. Additionally, principals may also be held vicariously liable for the actions or failures of their agents.
When determining whether an employer or principal can be held vicariously liable for a tort, courts will typically consider a range of factors. These factors may include the level of control that the employer or principal exercised over the individual, whether the individual was an integral part of the organization operated by the employer, and whether the relationship between the individual and the employer was strong enough to classify the individual as an employee.
The time limit for initiating an action in tort law is six years from the date on which the cause of action first arose. This time limit is consistent across all states and territories.
If you would like legal advice or representation in a tort matter or in any other legal matter please contact Armstrong Legal.