Tort Law and Mass Torts

Posted October 13th, 2012 by admin and filed in Uncategorized

A tort can be most simply defined as a civil wrong. Tort law differs from criminal law in that tort doesn’t have to be an illegal action but something done that causes harm on a personal level. Whereas a crime is generally brought by the state because it causes harm to the society as a whole.

The word tort comes from a Latin word meaning “twisted” or “turned aside.” A more specific definition would be an act that is turned aside from the standard of proper conduct. Tort law seeks to compensate the victim for his loss. The definition of tort law itself brings many cases into question. The reason for this is because the standard of proper conduct must be specifically defined in order to determine what type of  conduct is wrongful.

Therefore, some cases are quite easy for judges to discern while others are more difficult. The easier cases are used by judges, lawyers and tort scholars to develop policies and principles that set the standard for the more difficult cases. The majority of tort cases are brought by an individual plaintiff against an individual defendant resulting from a singular event.

However, more and more in recent decades, mass torts have become more frequent. A mass tort involves multiple injuries produced by a single accident. Examples of mass torts include explosions, the sale of a harmful drug, or the use of asbestos. Mass torts are challenging for the court because of the massive number of cases involved. Even when the court does undertake a mass tort, it is difficult to adequately divide justice amongst victims with different injuries who may sue at various times.

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