What is a “tort”?

UPDATED: Feb 18, 2012

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What is a “tort”?

Asked on February 18, 2012 under Accident Law, Alaska


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

A "tort" is a "wrong." (That's more-or-less the literal translation of the word "tort," by the way.) It is a breach of a legal duty, the violation of which can give rise to grounds to sue for compensation or damages. Common torts include driving carelessly (breach of the duty to use care in driving), slip-and-fall cases from store's failure to clean up a spill which it is aware of (breach of the duty to use care to protect your invitees or customers), malpractice (a doctor's breach of his/her duty to provide good medical care), or defamation (breach of the obligation to not wrongfully damage another's reputation).

Usually, the duty is breached by negligence, or failing to use the same standard or amount of care as a reasonable person would use in the like situation; but thee are also intentional torts, which is when someone deliberately injures another person or damages another's property.

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