Chapter 3: Introduction to Torts
INTRODUCTION TO TORT LAW
oTort: generally consists of a failure to fulfill a private obligation that was imposed by law.
Torts and Crimes
oTortfeasor: 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. E.g. If I sneak into your house, I commit the
tort of trespass to land & the crime of break & enter.
Concept Summary 3.1
Torts and Contracts
Just as torts may be confused with crimes, it may also be confused with contracts. We will
outline one similarity and four differences.
Both tort & contract involve primary and secondary obligations.
a)Primary obligations tell ppl how they ought to act. E.g. Tort of Battery - Don’t
touch another person in an offensive way. Law of Contract – Keep your promise.
b)Secondary obligations are remedial – tells ppl how they must act after primary
obligations have been broken. – Both tort & contract: Pay money for harm that
has been caused.
Source of Primary Obligations:
Tort: Obligations of tort are simply imposed by law
Contract: Obligations are created by the parties involved.
Tort: Since obligations are imposed by law, I can sue you even if you don’t agree to
Contract: Privity states that the only ppl who can sue, or be sued, on a contract are the
Compensations are available in both torts and contracts.
Tort: Obligations are imposed to prevent harm. For e.g. if you break primary obligations,
& my injuries cost $5000 in medical bills, I can recover this amount form you.
Contract: Obligations usually provides a benefit. For e.g. If you agreed to buy my car
for$10,000, but you failed to do so, you still have to pay me for whatever the car is really
worth $13, 000.
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