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Chad West March 31, 2022

Personal injury law is founded on the principal of tort, a civil wrong, that causes a claimant some harm or loss, whether physical, financial, mental or emotional. While criminal claims are typically punished by state jurisdictions, tort claims result in monetary damages to the wronged party as awarded by judges or juries. A tort is most simply defined as “an act or omission that gives rise to injury or harm to another and amounts to a civil wrong for which courts impose liability.” [1]

There are a few types of torts, but for our purposes, we can generally divide them into three categories: intentional, unintentional and strict negligence. [2]

An intentional tort is when one party causes harm to someone else without that person’s permission and on purpose. Many intentional torts are crimes, but they certainly don’t have to be. That Oscars-Night slap heard round the world? That’s an example of an intentional tort, though Chris Rock declined to file a report against Will Smith.

An unintentional tort is when a party causes harm to another person unintentionally through negligence. It means they had some responsibility – a duty of care – to another person and failed to exercise their responsibility or duty, resulting in the other person’s harm or injury. Most negligence cases fall into this category, including the majority of our caseload. One well-known example of an unintentional tort is Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants, the famous McDonald’s coffee case. Unintentional tort cases like this will consider the degree of responsibility or duty that was breeched. In the Liebeck case, McDonald’s was assigned 80 percent responsibility for the plaintiff’s injuries.

Strict negligence does not depend on the degree of care the defendant used. It only focuses on whether harm or injury occurred. [3] Examples of this might be a company selling defective products knowing they caused harm to consumers, possessing a particularly dangerous wild animal, or engaging in abnormally dangerous activities.

If you’ve been injured and your injury involves another party’s negligence, it may be worthwhile to speak with a qualified Dallas personal injury attorney about your injuries. Our legal team can help you decide whether and how you should pursue a recovery for your injuries.


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