87765-piy-ch07-01.pdf_119843 - CHAP TER Torts 7 O B J E C T...

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FIGURE 7.1 A Typical Construction Site tort A civil wrong, other than breach of contract. compensatory damages Money damages to compensate for economic losses, or losses stemming from injuries. punitive damages Money damages awarded to punish the defendant for gross and wanton negligence and to deter future wrongdoing. CHAPTER 7 Torts LEARNING OBJECTIVES Whenever a company or individual acts unreasonably and causes injury, that person or company may be liable for a tort. In some cases it doesn’t matter how careful or reasonable the company or individual is—they may be liable for any injury resulting from their actions. Torts are an integral part of our civil law, and in this chapter, you’ll learn about what kinds of torts exist and how to defend yourself or your company from potential tort liability. Specifically, you should be able to answer the following questions: 1. What are torts? 2. What are intentional torts, and how does one defend against an accusation of one? 3. What is negligence and how does it affect virtually all human activity? 4. What is strict liability and how does it affect businesses engaged in making and selling products? 5. What are the arguments for and against tort reform? Look at the picture in Figure 7.1. You’ve probably seen a similar picture of a construction site near where you live, with multiple orange traffic cones (with reflective stripes so they can be seen at night) and a large sign warning vehicles not to attempt to drive on the road. Now imagine the picture without the traffic cones, warning signs, or caution tape. If you were driving, would you still attempt to drive on this road? Most of us would probably answer no, since the road is obviously under construction and attempting to drive on it may result in severe damage to property (our vehicles) and personal injury. Similarly, pedestrians, skateboarders, and bicyclists will likely steer clear of this road even if it wasn’t clearly marked or roped off. So if the dangers associated with this construction are obvious, why would the construction workers go through the time and expense of setting up the traffic cones, sign, and tape? The answer has to do with tort law. A tort can be broadly defined as a civil wrong, other than breach of contract. In other words, a tort is any legally recognizable injury arising from the conduct (or nonconduct, because in some cases failing to act may be a tort) of persons or corporations. The other area of civil law that corporations have to be concerned about is contract law. There are several key differences between torts and contracts. First is the realm of possible plaintiffs. In contract law, only persons that you have a contract with, or you are a third-party-beneficiary to (such as when you are named the beneficiary to a life insurance policy and the company refuses to pay the claim), can possibly sue you for breach of contract. In tort law, just about anyone can sue you, as long as they can establish that you owe them some sort of legally recognized duty. The second key difference is
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87765-piy-ch07-01.pdf_119843 - CHAP TER Torts 7 O B J E C T...

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