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Injuries & Accidents

A tort, in common law jurisdictions, is a civil wrong[1] that causes someone else to suffer loss or harm resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act. The person who commits the act is called a tortfeasor. Although crimes may be torts, the cause of legal action is not necessarily a crime, as the harm may be due to negligence which does not amount to criminal negligence. The victim of the harm can recover their loss as damages in a lawsuit. In order to prevail, the plaintiff in the lawsuit, commonly referred to as the injured party, must show that the actions or lack of action was the legally recognizable cause of the harm. The equivalent of tort in civil law jurisdictions is delict. Legal injuries are not limited to physical injuries and may include emotional, economic, or reputational injuries as well as violations of privacy, property, or constitutional rights. Torts comprise such varied topics as automobile accidents, false imprisonment, defamation, product liability, copyright infringement, and environmental pollution (toxic torts). While many torts are the result of negligence, tort law also recognizes intentional torts, where a person has intentionally acted in a way that harms another, and in a few cases (particularly for product liability in the United States) "strict liability" which allows recovery without the need to demonstrate negligence. Tort law is different from criminal law in that: (1) torts may result from negligent as well as intentional or criminal actions and (2) tort lawsuits have a lower burden of proof such as preponderance of evidence rather than beyond a reasonable doubt. Sometimes a plaintiff may prevail in a tort case even if the person who allegedly caused harm was acquitted in an earlier criminal trial. For example, O. J. Simpson was acquitted in criminal court of murder but later found liable for the tort of wrongful death.

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