Torts are wrongful acts that can be handled by a civil court rather than a criminal court. In short, the defendant must have had a duty to act in a certain manner but failed to do so, thus resulting in some kind of loss to the plaintiff. Based on this, it should come as no surprise to learn that tort law can be very wide-ranging in nature indeed. Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about tort law:
1. Tort Comes From “To Turn” or “To Twist”
Tort came to the English language from Latin. In short, tort came from tortum, which makes excellent sense because that is Medieval Latin for either a wrong or an injustice of some kind. However, the Medieval Latin tortum came from the Latin torquere, which means either “to turn” or “to twist.”
2. The Civil Law Equivalent Is Delict
Interested individuals should know that torts are a common law concept. However, there is a rough equivalent in common law called delicts, which can see significant variation in meaning from one civil law jurisdiction to another. As for the difference between common law and civil law, the first can trace its origins to English laws while the second can trace its origins to Roman laws.
3. Very Old Concept
Perhaps unsurprisingly, torts are a very old concept. Granted, the word “tort” didn’t see use in a legal context until the 1580s. However, there were older words for similar concepts, as shown by the delicts of civil law jurisdictions.
4. Based On Germanic System of Compensatory Fines
With that said, the exact nature of torts can trace their origins to the Germanic system of compensatory fines. In short, when someone wronged someone else, they were supposed to make a payment to make up for having wronged said individual, thus preventing a blood feud from breaking out. Of course, there were plenty of cases in which the wronged individual was unwilling to take the payment that was offered, which was something that could have very bloody results to say the least.
5. Distinguished From Crimes in Later Times
Initially, torts and crimes were lumped together in Germanic systems, meaning that it wasn’t until later that Germanic societies started distinguishing between them. For instance, we know that later Anglo-Saxon law codes started including wrongs such as arson, open murder, and treason against one’s lord that were considered to be “without remedy,” meaning that they were wrongs that could not be compensated for by money.
6. Modern Tort Law Has Gone in Various Directions
Tort law shares the same origin. However, tort law has developed in different ways in different countries. Granted, the people who are responsible for shaping the relevant laws have been known to pay attention to what their counterparts in other countries have been doing, but at the end of the day, there have been considerable divergences from place to place.
7. Most Tort Cases Are Settled Out of Court
Most tort cases are settled out of court because that tends to be beneficial for both parties. For starters, it saves both sides significant amounts of time and money. Furthermore, it minimizes the stress of an already stressful situation.
8. There Are Intentional Torts
One of the three kinds of torts are intentional torts, which happen when the wrongful act was intentional in nature. Some examples include fraud, conversion, and the invasion of privacy.
9. There Are Negligence Torts
In contrast, negligence torts are when someone failed to show the kind of care expected from a prudent individual, thus resulting in loss to someone else. For example, if someone slips and falls because of a wet floor for which the property owner hadn’t bothered to put up a wet floor sign, there is potential for a negligence tort case.
10. There Are Strict Liability Torts
Strict liability torts happen when the defendants possess a higher than normal degree of responsibility. As a result, plaintiffs don’t need to demonstrate either fault or negligence in these tort cases. One example would be someone getting hurt because of someone else keeping a wild animal, while another example would be someone getting hurt because of someone else conducting ultra hazardous activities such as using explosives and shipping volatile chemicals. With that said, the best example of strict liability torts might be defective products.