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What is a Tort?




I recently had my good friend ask me, “What is a tort? Is that some kind of pastry?” No that is a “torte.”  Most people don’t spend their time worrying about the difference between categories of law, but tort law is an important part of society.

A tort is defined by Wikipedia as:

“A tort, in common law jurisdictions, is a wrong that involves a breach of a civil duty owed to someone else. It is differentiated from a crime, which involves a breach of a duty owed to society in general. Though many acts are both torts and crimes, prosecutions for crime are mostly the responsibility of the state, private prosecutions being rarely used; whereas any party who has been injured may bring a lawsuit for tort. One who commits a tortious act is called a tortfeasor.”

Now, I realize there are far worse things that a person can be called than a “tortfeasor.” The reality of tort law is that we generally deal with people whose lives have been significantly changed due to the wrongdoing or “negligence” of another person.

The practice of tort law is most often referred to as personal injury law, and lawyers who practice in this area are usually called personal injury lawyers. The truth is, though, that any person can suffer a tort. A common example of a tort is a car crash, where the “tortfeasor” runs a stop sign or a red light and crashes into another car, causing injury to the occupants of that vehicle. Torts can also include other acts of injury, including negligent design or maintenance of roads and bridges, negligent acts of medical providers, or product design defects.

Moreover, no lawyer who practices tort law, a/k/a, personal injury lawyer has an interest in bringing a frivolous lawsuit because they usually work on a contingent basis. In other words, they only get paid if they win.  If they bring cases with no merit, how on earth are they going to get paid? Because of this, there is a self-governing mechanism in the profession to weed out good claims from bad ones.

Now you know what a tort is.

About Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard

Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard is a leading Illinois personal injury law firm with offices in Chicago and Waukegan. In addition to representing clients in medical malpractice cases, the firm’s personal injury lawyers focus on car and truck accidents, airplane and train accidents, construction injuries, birth injuries, brain injuries, unsafe properties and animal attacks. The firm has obtained more than $585 million on behalf of its clients in personal injury and wrongful death cases, including 192 multi-million dollar verdicts or settlements.

For more information, call 312-361-1823 or use the firm’s online contact form.