Tort is a civil wrong. It is an accidental or intentional act, which results to loss or injury to another party. The injury is not just limited to the physical aspect, but also to the emotional and reputational point of view (Okrent, 2009). Tort law is a state law passed by judges and legislatures. A tort act may not be an illegal act and tort law is, therefore, different from criminal law. Whereas the state manages a criminal case, an individual or his/her dependants/survivors manage a tort case. However, some intentional torts, such as fraud and battery, have criminal elements, hence regarded as such. Tort law requires that persons responsible for the act (the defendants) remain accountable for their actions. It gives room for fair hearing and verdict to enable compensation of plaintiff on one hand; and, on the other, deters tortfeasors or would-be tortfeasors (Nahmad, 2010). The plaintiff may sue the defendant for present and future anticipated losses. The defendant becomes liable to punishment through compensation made to the people whose rights he or she infringed. There are different types of torts. The common ones include intentional, negligence and constitutional torts. The most common type, however, is negligence tort. This essay highlights differences between these three types of torts and sheds more light on each of them.
Negligence tort is where the failure of the defendant’s ability to prevent a foreseeable danger leads to injury or loss to other parties. It is commonly associated with personal injury accidents and car accidents (Dunham 2008). For one party to sue another on the negligence tort, there has to be an agreement of duty of care. Forfeiture to uphold and perform this duty must be the resultant cause of the injury suffered or closely related to the breach of agreement (proximate clause). At this point the plaintiff has the right to sue the defendant in order to get compensation, which more often than not comes in monetary bearing (Dunham 2008). However, compensation may not always be in monetary form. For example, a case in which a doctor performs surgery on a patient is applicable. The doctor has the responsibility of doing all in his power to treat the patient, and not to put the life of his patient in danger. If during the surgery the doctor leaves a surgical blade in the body of the patient, it amounts to negligence. When the patient suffers because of this act through deteriorating health or any other way, it constitutes negligence tort. The patient at this point has the right to sue the doctor for negligence. The doctor’s error of omission resulted to further complication of the health of his patient (Okrent, 2009).
An intentional tort occurs when injury is knowingly inflicted to a second party resulting to loss or damage of the property or name (Okrent, 2009). It differs from negligence tort in that, unlike in negligence tort, the perpetrator of the intentional tort usually has the intent and cause for his or her actions. Again, damage is the factor that warrants it as an intentional tort. Intentional torts include false imprisonment, slander and libel (defamation), fraud and emotional distress. Disagreements arising from land ownership and use such as trespassing and being a nuisance is an example of under intentional torts (Okrent, 2009). The nuisance can be in the form of loud music or constant wrangling in a family. When a media house is willingly publishing untruthful information about a politician without any evidence to back its claims, the media house has essentially engaged in libel. When the information published deals a blow to the reputation of the politician, he or she has suffered the damages of an intentional tort. The politician has the right to take the media house to court for defamation.
Constitutional tort refers to infringement or violation of a person’s rights by a government employee (Nahmad, 2010). It is also an action taken to pursue compensation for injuries or losses resulting from violation of a citizen’s constitutional rights. When sued, the governments’ servants are liable to punishment through compensation of the plaintiff in cash kind or some other means. Constitutional and Specialized Torts Litigation (CSTL) attorneys have the responsibility to represent such government employees at all levels including state and national levels. According to Nahmad (2010), constitutional torts involve such cases as suing a police officer for excessive use of force and suing a principal (or any other school administrator) for wrongfully punishing a student (for instance, through expulsion).
Tort law is different from criminal law, even though some types of tort law, particularly intentional torts, may have a criminal semblance. Long ago most states prohibited tort law within the family. However, today, with exception of a few states, a significant number of states allow in-family suing (Nahmad, 2010). People thought that it might have a negative effect on the family, possibly a breakdown in relations. Today’s proponents argue that at the time of the suing there is always enough proof that a breakdown of relations has already occurred.