Introduction to tort law: tort: generally consists of a failure to fulfill a private obligation that was imposed by law. Torts and crimes: tortfeasor: a person who commits a tort. Thus you are entitled to sue me, if you win the lawsuit, the court will hold me liable & probably order me to pay damages to you. A tort occurs when a person breaks a private obligation, whereas a crime occurs if a person breaks a public obligation. A public obligation is owed to society as a whole, thus if something goes wrong, the gov"t will prosecute the accused on behalf of the whole community. If the court agrees with the gov"t then the accused will be found guilty and subject to punishment. In many cases, torts & crimes will overlap. If i sneak into your house, i commit the tort of trespass to land & the crime of break & enter.