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Tort Vs. Personal Injury Law


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While the terms are similar and often used interchangeably, there is a slight difference between “tort” and personal injury law. Tort is a wrongdoing committed by one person against another person that harms their well being or property. Personal injury law, however, fits under the umbrella of tort law and is typically made up of negligence cases.


As mentioned, tort law has to do with wrongdoings committed by one person against another person. A tort is a civil wrongdoing in which the injured party typically seeks monetary damages against the wrongdoer. A criminal act differs from a tort in this way, because in a criminal litigation, the government brings charges against a party for punitive damages like jail time. There are three types of torts: intentional acts of harm, negligence, and strict liability.


Most cases of automobile accidents and falls fall under the category of negligence based torts. There are four basic aspects of a negligence based case: duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. All persons have a duty to act reasonably and responsibly in a given circumstance. When a person fails to act reasonably and responsibly, that is a breach of duty.  If their actions specifically led to the injury in question, this is causation. A person must have incurred some kind of damage to be entitled to financial compensation. Damages can include lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, and property damage. This includes actual and future losses.

Intentional Acts of Harm.

The second form of tort law, intentional acts of harm, typically pays more in damages than negligence, but is harder to prove as you must show that the defendant had intentions of malice or a particular state of mind. Some examples of intentional acts of harm include libel, defamation, battery, assault, false imprisonment, and trespassing. For example, if someone intentionally strikes you in a fight this is an intentional act of harm. While if someone accidentally strikes you causing injury, this may be negligence.

Strict Liability.

The third type of tort is strict liability. This occurs when a party is found liable even though there was no fault like negligence or malicious intent associated with the act. The most common subcategory of this type is product liability, when someone makes and sells defective products. Some examples include, beauty and personal care products, faulty power tools, and dangerous furniture.

Personal Injury.

While tort law and personal injury law may seem the same, personal injury fits under the category of tort law. This would mainly include the type of torts under the negligence category but it can also include intentional acts of harm or gross negligence. The main difference is that the damages or injury must occur to someone’s physical or emotional well-being, so property damage would not fall under this category. This includes car accidents, falls, nursing home neglect, medical malpractice, etc.

If you have been injured due to someone else’s wrong doing, you may have a personal injury case and should consult with a lawyer for more information. Choose a lawyer in your specific state as they may be more familiar with local laws and regulations – for example, contact one of the many Missouri personal injury lawyers if you’re from that state who are well-versed in this area of the law and get a better understanding of whether you may be entitled to compensation.


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