Chapter5TortsandStrictLiability - Chapter 5 Torts and...

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Chapter 5 Torts and Strict Liability Tort - a wrongful act (other than a breach of contract) that results in harm or injury to another and leads to civil liability. Any time that one party’s allegedly wrongful conduct causes injury to another, an action may arise under the law of torts. Many of the lawsuits brought by or against business firms are based on the tort theories: Intentional torts Negligence Strict Liability The Basis of Tort Law Two notions serve as the basis of all torts: Wrongs Compensation Tort law is designed to compensate those who have suffered a loss or injury due to another person’s wrongful act. In a tort action, one person or group brings a personal suit against another person or group to obtain compensation (monetary damages) or other relief for the harm suffered. Damages - a monetary award sought as a remedy for a breach of contract or a tortious action. The Purpose of Tort Law The purpose of tort law is to provide remedies for the violation of various protected interests, such as physical injury or property damage. In legal usage, the singular damage is used to refer to harm or injury to person or property, and the plural damages used to refer to monetary compensation for such harm or injury. Damages Available in Tort Action Because the purpose of tort law is to compensate the injured party for the damage suffered, it is important to have a basic understanding of the types of damages the plaintiffs seek in tort actions. Compensatory Damages Compensatory damages - a monetary award equivalent to the actual value of injuries or damage sustained by the aggrieved party; to make the plaintiffs whole and put them in the same position that they would have been in had the tort not occurred. Special damages compensate the plaintiff for quantifiable monetary losses, such as medical expenses, lost wages and benefits, extra costs, loss of irreplaceable items, costs of repairing or replacing damaged property, etc. General damages compensate individuals (not companies) for the non-monetary aspects of the harm suffered, such as pain and suffering. (physical or emotional pain and suffering, loss of companionship, loss of consortium, disfigurement, loss of reputation, loss or impairment of mental or physical capacity) Punitive Damages Punitive damages - monetary damages that may be awarded to a plaintiff to punish the defendant and deter similar conduct in the future.
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Punitive damages are appropriate only when the defendant’s conduct was particularly egregious (bad) or reprehensible (unacceptable). Tort Reform Tort law performs a valuable function by enabling injured parties to obtain compensation. Measures to reduce the number of tort cases include: limiting the amount of both punitive damages and general damages that can be awarded capping the amount that attorneys can collect in contingency fees requiring the losing party to pay both the plaintiff’s and defendant’s expenses
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