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in law, the violation of some duty clearly set by law, not by a specific agreement between two parties, as in breach of contractcontract,
in law, a promise, enforceable by law, to perform or to refrain from performing some specified act. In a general sense, all civil obligations fall under tort or contract law.
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. When such a duty is breached, the injured party has the right to institute suit for compensatory damagesdamages,
money award that the judgment of a court requires the defendant in a suit to pay to the plaintiff as compensation for the loss or injury inflicted. Damages are the form of legal redress most commonly sought.
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. Certain torts, such as nuisancenuisance,
in law, an act that, without legal justification, interferes with safety, comfort, or the use of property. A private nuisance (e.g., erecting a wall that shuts off a neighbor's light) is one that affects one or a few persons, while a public nuisance (e.g.
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, may be suppressed by injunctioninjunction,
in law, order of a court directing a party to perform a certain act or to refrain from an act or acts. The injunction, which developed as the main remedy in equity, is used especially where money damages would not satisfy a plaintiff's claim, or to protect personal
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. Many crimes are also torts; burglary, for instance, often constitutes trespasstrespass,
in law, any physical injury to the person or to property. In English common law the action of trespass first developed (13th cent.) to afford a remedy for injuries to property.
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The history of Anglo-American tort law can be traced back to the action for trespass to property or to the person. Not until the late 18th cent. was the currently observed distinction made between injury willfully inflicted and that which is unintentional. In the early 19th cent., negligencenegligence,
in law, especially tort law, the breach of an obligation (duty) to act with care, or the failure to act as a reasonable and prudent person would under similar circumstances.
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 was distinguished as a separate tort, and it has come to supply a large portion of tortious litigation.

The general tendency today is to rule that the breach of any duty constitutes a tort, rather than to rule that an alleged tort must fit into some previously recognized variety, such as assault, false imprisonment, or libel. Some courts treat any willful unjustified injury as tortious, while others hold that the act must be defined as tortious by law, regardless of the perpetrator's motive. Torts that injure reputation or feelings are personal torts; those violating statutory rights are constitutional torts; those involving real or personal property are property torts. Property torts include several classes of torts, such as automobile accidents, negligence, product liability, and medical malpracticemalpractice,
failure to provide professional services with the skill usually exhibited by responsible and careful members of the profession, resulting in injury, loss, or damage to the party contracting those services.
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In some areas, tort liabilityliability,
in law, an obligation of one party to another, usually to compensate financially. It is a fundamental aspect of tort law, although liability may also arise from duties entered into by special agreement, as in a contract or in the carrying out of a fiduciary duty.
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 can be assigned without a finding of fault, as in no-fault automobile insurance. In areas where the finding of fault remains crucial, and the awards of compensatory or punitive damages can be substantial, tort litigation can be time-consuming and costly. Its defenders claim tort litigation promotes safety and economic efficiency, while critics argue the process does little but raise insurance premiums while providing windfalls to a handful of lawyers. Efforts to reform tort law hope to set limits to damage settlements and to broaden no-fault statutes for use in alternative forms of litigation. In the 1990s many U.S. states, pressed chiefly by conservatives and business interests, passed laws limiting damages, but state courts have repeatedly voided these limits as violations of "open courts" guarantees in state constitutions.

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Law a civil wrong arising from an act or failure to act, independently of any contract, for which an action for personal injury or property damages may be brought
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
The collateral source rule forbids the use of evidence at trial that the plaintiff is being compensated from alternative sources such as insurance contracts (American Tort Reform Association, 2012).
The literature on tort reforms is vast and goes back at least 30 years.
Analyses of the first issue have provided strong evidence that limitations on tort liability reduce the frequency of claims and the size of claims (Browne and Puelz, 1999; Browne and Schmit, 2008; Paik, Black, and Hyman 2013).
Similarly, bus drivers have sought an exemption from the law because when driving they are "doing their duty." (48) This argument evokes the doctrine of qualified immunity, which shields public officials from tort damages to ensure that they can provide public services.
The executive branch has also conflated tort and crime--and without legislative prompting--by importing something akin to the tort doctrine of contributory negligence into its response to crashes.
In tort, contributory negligence sharply limits a plaintiff s ability to recover if she herself acted negligently.
Jackson v Penfold illustrates the application of waiver of tort under both implied contract theory and extinctive ratification within the context of a bailment.
That he sold them wrongfully is wholly immaterial--the bailor, on discovering that its bailee had disposed of its property, had the option of insisting on a tort having been committed and suing in trespass and trover; or it might waive the tort and claim the sale-price.
This could be understood as a typical application of waiver of tort in the implied contract theory, where Heinz is deemed to owe the Board a debt rather than suing for a proprietary tort.
For tort liability's insurance function to feasibly operate through higher product prices, some kind of market relationship is required.
Although Calabresi drew on interpersonal comparisons to justify the importance of risk aversion in the market for insurance or commensurate tort liability, economic theory and evidence demonstrate that one need not resort to an interpersonal comparison of utility.
An aspect of Calabresi's discussion that is of less concern in the current economy is the role of tort when there are monopolies.