What Falls Under A Tort Claim?

What Falls Under A Tort Claim?

Tort claims may include everything from an automobile accident, slip-and-fall, or a defective product, to medical malpractice, trespassing, fraud, and assault. The word “tort” pertains to a civil wrong that falls under the jurisdiction of the civil court system, as opposed to a criminal wrong, which would be tried by the state in the criminal court system. Virtually every case heard in civil court will be a tort claim – with the exception of contractual law. 

To be considered a true civil wrong, the tortfeasor must have caused the claimant to suffer some type of harm, whether it’s financial, physical, or emotional. A tort may be caused through intentional wrong, strict liability, or negligence. The ultimate goal of the civil court is to make the plaintiff “whole” again through fair financial compensation, whereas criminal courts are more punitive with jail time, fines payable to the state, probation, and other sanctions.  

If you believe you have a tort claim, you may contact a Los Angeles personal injury attorney to inquire about filing a personal injury lawsuit. You may be entitled to financial reparations for the harm you needlessly suffered due to another person’s civil wrongdoing. 

Intentional wrong 

Many intentional wrongs – crimes committed on purpose – also fall under the umbrella of criminal prosecution. When an individual or entity engages in deliberate conduct that causes injury or damage to another, it is considered an intentional tort. For instance, striking someone in a fight would be considered the intentional tort of battery, whereas accidentally hitting someone would not qualify. 

Examples include: 

  • Assault  
  • Battery 
  • Defamation of character 
  • False imprisonment 
  • Fraud (an economic tort) 
  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress 
  • Trespassing (a property tort) 

Strict liability 

Responsibility can be imposed on an individual or entity without proof of negligence or direct fault in some cases. The harm suffered by the individual is enough to assume a certain duty of care based on the relationship between the two parties. The intent is irrelevant. 

Examples include: 

  • Abnormally dangerous activities (ex: blasting) 
  • Animal attacks, livestock intrusions, wild animal ownership 
  • Defective products 


Negligence occurs when a person doesn’t mean to cause harm but could have prevented the harm by taking actions another “reasonable person” might have taken. A reckless act or the failure to act are both considered forms of carelessness that can lead to injury and legal liability.  

Examples include: 

  • Automobile accidents 
  • Medical malpractice 
  • Pedestrian accidents 
  • Slip and fall accidents 

Most personal injury lawyers specialize in negligent tort law, as these cases represent the majority. 

Proving a tort claim 

Injury is not enough to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. In order to receive compensation for one’s injuries, the plaintiff must prove liability and damages. The four key elements in a tort case include:  

  • Duty: the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care. 
  • Breach of duty: the defendant breached the duty of care.  
  • Injury: the plaintiff suffered injuries.  
  • Causation: the injuries were directly caused by the breach in the duty of care. 

If these elements are proved in court, the judge will then determine the appropriate value of damages based on the evidence and supporting expert testimony. Personal injury damages may take into account the specific legal claim, the circumstances surrounding the accident, the severity of the injuries, the out-of-pocket expenses, and the permanence of the emotional harm suffered.  

Tort claims are often resolved through out-of-court settlements, but the standard of evidence for a juried trial is considered lower than criminal court; 51% of the court must be persuaded, based on a preponderance of the evidence, rather than the 99% or greater “beyond a reasonable doubt” of criminal court.   

A free consultation with Los Angeles personal injury lawyers is the best course of action if you’re not sure what type of case you have or whether you have sufficient grounds to sue in civil court. At Ellis Law, these cases are pursued under a contingency arrangement, which involves no out-of-pocket expense for the plaintiff. 

It is sometimes possible to pursue two separate claims in both criminal and civil court. Your civil lawyer may recommend that you file a report with the local police who may then forward the case to the District Attorney for separate criminal proceedings. Reach out to the attorneys at Ellis Injury Law today to discuss how to move forward with your case.