What Is Tort Law? How Does It Impact Your Personal Injury Case?
Defining Tort Law for Our Riverside, CA Clients & Their Families
Many people are familiar with the term tort law, but most need help understanding tort law meaning. They also need to know what impact tort law has on personal injury cases. Below, the Law Offices of Harlan B. Kistler defines tort law for our Riverside, CA clients. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our law firm for a free case review. We’re here to assist with your case!
What Is Tort in Law? A Tort Law Definition You Can Understand
Tort law refers to civil cases of wrongdoing committed by one person against another, which can usually be made right by having the responsible party pay compensation for the damages. A tort is a civil wrong causing harm or loss to another that’s not merely a breach of contract. Tort law attempts to compensate injured parties and sets a precedent for future cases to deter further wrongdoing. Certain torts could see the responsible parties facing jail time, but most seek to compensate the injured parties financially. Examples of wrongdoing could include things that cause physical or economic injury to another, cause pain or suffering, damage a person’s reputation, or violate their constitutional rights or privacy.
How Do Tort Law Cases Work? What Are Tort Law Examples?
Tort law cases typically see an individual filing a lawsuit seeking financial compensation for property damages, medical expenses, economic losses, and/or noneconomic losses such as pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life. In the event of a wrongful death, the deceased’s loved ones will file a lawsuit. To have a tort law case, you must prove the injured party’s harm or loss was directly caused by another’s breach of their reasonable duty of care. The most common civil tort law cases involve:
- Product liability
- Civil assault or battery
- Invasion of privacy
- Trespass (to land, real property, personal property, etc.)
- Intentional infliction of emotional or mental distress
- False imprisonment
Are There Different Types of Torts in Law?
Tort laws may differ from state to state, so it’s essential to consult a personal injury attorney familiar with your state’s specific tort laws. However, most of them fall under one of three main categories:
- Intentional Tort – Tort law cases involving intentional tort include ones in which the responsible party knew or should have known their conduct would result in harm.
- Negligent Tort – Negligent tort cases involve circumstances in which the responsible party doesn’t take the proper precaution to keep others safe, and their actions result in harm.
- Strict Responsibility – Strict responsibility often refers to tort law cases involving corporations selling faulty products that cause harm.
What Are Some Common Tort Law Cases?
Many civil tort lawsuits involve negligence. Negligence claims must prove the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care that was breached and caused harm or injury to the plaintiff. Negligence in tort law often involves personal injury claims. Injuries do not always have to be physical. While physical injuries to organs, limbs, and other body parts often occur, mental health injuries (emotional pain and suffering) are also considered. Common tort cases involving negligence and personal injury include:
- Slip, trip, or fall accidents
- Car or motorcycle accidents
- Bike or scooter accidents
- Trucking accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Wrongful death
How Is California Tort Law Unique?
California tort law differs from federal tort and other states’ personal injury laws. Under the California Tort Claims Act, individuals must file tort claims against government entities within six months of their personal injury. California has also adopted the concept of comparative negligence, allowing juries to divide blame between defendants and plaintiffs. It’s important to note that plaintiffs may still receive compensation even if they’re more than 50% responsible for their harm. California tort reform is often in the news, as ongoing disputes contend with which acts constitute torts, who can file a lawsuit over these acts, and what financial compensation may be awarded for cases involving these torts.
Why Choose the Law Offices of Harlan B. Kistler?
If you’ve suffered a personal injury, recovery should be your primary concern, not worrying about piling medical bills or missed wages. Hiring an experienced personal injury law firm, such as the Law Offices of Harlan B. Kistler, can help reduce stress and anxiety during recovery. We can help you seek financial compensation for injuries caused by others’ negligence. Harlan B. Kistler has been practicing law since 1989, and our firm has handled the personal injury cases of thousands of clients over the past 30+ years. Browse client testimonials to see why we have many satisfied former clients in the Riverside area.
Discuss the Meaning of Tort Law with Our Law Firm
Do you still have questions regarding the meaning of tort law? The Law Offices of Harlan B. Kistler are experienced with tort law cases and can help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to request a free consultation with our personal injury attorney in Riverside, CA. We’ll work tirelessly on your behalf to ensure your side of the story is told, and you achieve the best possible case outcome.
Cat Bite Injuries 101
Cat bites can cause serious injuries and infections. As with dog bites, the owner of the cat may be liable for your injury, and you may be eligible to receive damages in a personal injury lawsuit. If you are the victim of a cat bite, consult with a personal injury attorney in Riverside to determine if you could be eligible for compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Here is what you need to know.
Cat bites are serious.
Although cat bites may seem less significant on the surface than dog bites, they should still be taken seriously. Cats’ teeth are extremely sharp, which means that they can pierce deep layers of tissue, and the bacteria in their mouths can cause infections. The bacteria that you may be exposed to during a cat bite can lead to septicemia, or blood poisoning, which is a serious medical condition that usually requires hospitalization. If you are bitten by a cat, you should clean the wound and seek medical care as soon as possible. Without treatment, you could develop an infection within as few as 24 hours.
The cat’s owner may be responsible for your expenses.
After a cat bite, consult with a personal injury attorney to discuss your case and understand your options. If the cat owner was negligent in preventing the bite from occurring, he or she could be held responsible. Depending on where you live, the owner may be responsible regardless of the cat’s history of behavior, or you may need to demonstrate that the owner should have known that the cat was aggressive based on the animal’s actions in the past.
You should document the injury.
If you plan to contact a personal injury attorney, document the circumstances of the bite and the injury as soon as possible. Visit a doctor and get a copy of the medical records for your lawyer to review. The more proof and information you can provide your attorney, the easier it will be for him or her to make your case.
What to Know About Mesothelioma Lawsuits
Mesothelioma is a rare, but highly aggressive type of cancer that is difficult to treat. In nearly every case, mesothelioma is linked to asbestos exposure. This means that individuals who worked as auto mechanics, carpenters, manufacturing plant employees, electricians, and HVAC mechanics could be at risk of mesothelioma. If you have developed this cancer, or a loved one has died from it, contact a personal injury lawyer in Riverside to discuss a possible wrongful death claim.
When you watch this featured video, you’ll learn more about asbestos exposure and mesothelioma lawsuits. Since it can take several decades for cancer to develop after asbestos exposure, it may still be possible to file a wrongful death lawsuit, even if the exposure took place years ago.
Emerging Trends in Public Nuisance Lawsuits in California
California is widely regarded as a leader in environmental sustainability, but that doesn’t mean it’s immune to toxic hazards that can harm human health. These toxic threats may be the subject of litigation in the form of public nuisance lawsuits, which personal injury lawyers near Riverside may handle. There are a few interesting trends in public nuisance lawsuits in California, including litigation pending against oil companies regarding climate change.
Public Nuisance Lawsuits
The legal definition of a nuisance is quite broad, which makes it a catch-all of sorts for difficult-to-classify litigation. Any physical condition or human activity can be a nuisance if it:
- Causes harm to another person
- Reduces a person’s enjoyment and reasonable use of property
- Is offensive or indecent to the senses
A personal injury lawyer can file a private nuisance lawsuit on behalf of one neighbor and against another neighbor. In contrast, a public nuisance lawsuit is filed over a problem that affects an entire community or a large number of people.
Climate Change Lawsuits
According to the Carbon Majors Database , 7.4% of all global greenhouse emissions released between 1988 and 2015 were caused by five oil companies: Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Shell, and BP. And on September 19, 2017, the cities of San Francisco and Oakland filed separate public nuisance lawsuits against these five companies. They allege that the defendants knew the greenhouse emissions they caused to be released would worsen climate change. They further allege that the defendants knew worsening climate change directly contributed to rising sea levels in coastal cities. Damages are demanded to fund adaptations of these cities to the rising sea level.
Chemical Contamination Lawsuits
While climate change lawsuits are a relatively new trend, plaintiffs have been filing toxic tort lawsuits against pesticide manufacturers for years. Usually, these lawsuits are individual or class action lawsuits. Recently, personal injury lawyers have used public nuisance lawsuits that allow California cities to sue for chemical contamination. A few cities, including San Diego, have sued Monsanto to demand that the former PCB manufacturer pay for the cleanup of waterways polluted by PCBs.
Keeping Kids Safe from Dog Bites
Children are at a particularly high risk of dog bites, simply because they tend to speak loudly and yell, run around, and wave their arms around. This energetic behavior can be misinterpreted by an otherwise well-behaved pup. Personal injury lawyers near Riverside can help parents in the aftermath of an attack by someone else’s dog , but parents are also encouraged to teach their kids about dog safety early in life.
Watch this featured video to hear from a dog behavioral expert. She and her young daughter demonstrate how kids should behave when a strange, unleashed dog approaches them, and when a friendly, leashed dog approaches. You’ll also get some tips on reading a dog’s body language, which can tell you if an attack is more likely. If an attack does occur, getting your child medical attention is your top priority. When he or she has been treated, it’s time to call a personal injury lawyer.
Don’t Let Evidence Vanish in a Nursing Home Abuse Case
Even if you meticulously research nursing homes before moving your loved one, he or she may fall victim to nursing home abuse . Know the signs of possible abuse, and talk to a personal injury lawyer serving Riverside as soon as possible if anything raises your suspicions. Your attorney will give you invaluable guidance about preserving evidence for the case, and about your legal options regarding litigation and the nursing home contract.
Take photographs of the evidence.
Visual evidence is difficult to dispute, and it can have a powerful effect on a jury if the case goes to trial. If your loved one has unusual bruises, develops bed sores, or has sustained unexplained lacerations, take pictures of these wounds. Take additional pictures over time to document whether the wounds heal as expected. It’s preferable to time-stamp the pictures, if possible. You should also take photos of any conditions in the room or throughout the nursing home that may have contributed to your loved one’s injuries. These hazards may include worn or ripped carpeting, inadequate lighting, or broken furniture. Get pictures of everything that looks suspicious as quickly as possible, as hazardous conditions may be repaired after an incident in an attempt to avoid liability.
Record witness statements.
Nursing homes tend to be densely populated facilities. Talk to your loved one’s roommate, if applicable, and the neighbors. Talk to other staff members, and write down a timeline of what happened. Ask the witnesses to give you a written, signed statement of their version of the events. It’s important to interview witnesses as soon as possible after the incident, as memories can fade and change over time.
Just about everything is documented in a long-term care facility, including nursing logs that show who was working a particular shift, records of when medications were administered, and charts that reflect when patients were observed to have injuries. Your personal injury lawyer can assist you in collecting the necessary documents, via a subpoena if necessary.
Request your loved one’s medical records.
Your attorney will need a copy of your loved one’s medical records to prove that he or she suffered injuries, and that those injuries were directly caused by the act of nursing home abuse. It’s not unheard of for nursing home staff to delay taking their residents to the ER when an injury occurs. Check with your loved one’s doctor directly about his or her care, rather than relying on the information provided by the nursing home staff.
Environmental Hazards: How Victims Got Justice
If someone’s spouse dies as a result of acute toxicity from pesticides or chemicals, the surviving victim may have legal recourse. This could include a wrongful death claim that falls under the category of toxic torts. Toxic torts are claims filed by a personal injury lawyer in Riverside. They seek compensation for the victims based on the defendant’s negligence in causing the decedent to be exposed to deadly environmental hazards. A personal injury lawsuit won’t bring the decedent back, but it can allow the surviving family members to attain a sense of justice. It’s also possible to file a toxic tort in the absence of a wrongful death, as long as the injuries were directly caused by the negligent act.
Legal Concepts Regarding Toxic Torts
Like other personal injury lawsuits, a toxic tort claim is based on the legal concepts of liability and negligence. Negligence refers to any careless behavior that leads to the plaintiff’s injury or the decedent’s wrongful death. Liability means that the defendant has been found responsible. In order to win a favorable jury verdict for the plaintiff, the lawyer must prove the following:
- The defendant owed a duty to act with reasonable care toward the public or a specific person.
- The defendant’s careless behavior failed to meet this duty of reasonable care.
- The defendant’s careless behavior caused the plaintiff to suffer harm.
Hypothetically, assume that the defendant is the owner of a farm that grows peppers, and he or she uses pesticides on the fields. The plaintiff is a farmworker who was exposed to toxic levels of pesticides after being instructed to apply the chemicals. The plaintiff may sue the defendant for these injuries if the defendant failed to provide the worker with the necessary safety equipment.
Examples of Toxic Torts
Toxic torts can be based on a wide range of allegations. For instance, plaintiffs may claim that a landfill or manufacturing plant polluted their groundwater, causing cancers and birth defects. One of the most well-known toxic torts is the Love Canal case. In the mid-1900s, Hooker Chemicals & Plastics Corp. used a dump site at Love Canal, New York to bury 22,000 tons of hazardous chemicals. During the next two decades, the chemicals seeped into the pipes and into the air. More than 1,000 families had to leave their homes permanently, and more than 600 personal injury lawsuits were filed. The cases resulted in multi-million dollar settlements.
Understanding Comparative Negligence
Some states are comparative negligence states, and others follow contributory negligence rules. The difference between these two models will be important if you ever file a personal injury lawsuit in Riverside. Since California is a comparative negligence state, you can still recover compensation for your losses even if you were partially at fault for your slip and fall injury. Hear how this works by watching this brief video.
It uses the hypothetical example of Perry and David. Perry is walking on the street while immersed in a handheld videogame. David is listening to music while skateboarding. David crashes into Perry, and Perry sues David for his injuries. The jury determines that Perry is 40% responsible for the accident, which means David is 60% responsible. The rules of comparative negligence state that Perry’s monetary award will be reduced by 40%.
Can I Sue Someone Who Is in Jail?
Personal injury lawsuits are sometimes subjected to unexpected snags, such as the incarceration of the defendant. You do have the legal right to sue someone who is in jail or prison, but the logistics will be more challenging. Talk to a personal injury lawyer serving Riverside about the particulars of your case to determine whether it’s worth your time to file a lawsuit. This will depend on factors such as the strength of the evidence against the defendant, the extent of your damages, and the amount of assets the defendant is likely to have. Since the defendant is behind bars, it’s likely that the most significant factor to consider is whether the defendant can pay the damages.
If you do have a personal injury lawyer file a claim against an inmate, expect some complications to arise. Inmates are subject to being transferred to different facilities. The same inmate may be transferred several times during his or her sentence. This may delay the resolution of your case. On the other hand, if the inmate was convicted of a crime pertaining to your injuries, then it stands to reason that the lawsuit is based on substantial evidence supporting your claims.
Contact our team today to learn more or check out some of our client testimonials.
A Quick Look at Suing a Business
A business might be held liable for slip and fall injuries that occurred on its property, provided the owner was negligent in preventing the incident. Before a personal injury lawyer in Riverside can file a slip and fall lawsuit on your behalf, he or she needs to determine who the defendant is. Businesses that are sole proprietorships are owned and operated by one person, and it’s this person—not the business itself—that can be sued.
Your slip and fall attorney might determine that the business is run as a partnership. Each partner is legally responsible for the business, and so each person would be named as a defendant. Corporations are different. They are separate, legal entities. Your legal counsel would file the lawsuit against the legal name of that corporation. A limited partnership is treated the same as a corporation for the purpose of naming a defendant. Of course, even if you’re suing a corporation or limited partnership, there could be multiple defendants, depending on the circumstances of the case.
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