“Tort” comes from the Latin work “tortus,” which means twisted, and the French word “tort,” which means injury or wrong. A tort is a civil wrong for which the law provides a remedy. This law imposes a duty on persons to act in a way that will not injure other persons. If this duty is breached, a tort is committed and the person who committed it may be liable in a lawsuit brought by the injured person.
You may have read about doctors struggling to get malpractice insurance or product manufacturers hesitating to put new products on the market. This stems from tort claims.
The purpose of this law is to deter wrongful conduct, encourage responsible behavior, and restore those injured to their original condition, as closely as possible, by compensating them for their injury.
The most familiar types of personal injury cases are auto accidents and slip-and-fall cases. Yet, personal injury actions can include such things as defamation, assault, intentional inflection of emotional distress, and wrongful death.
When you are injured by someone, you suffer not only the pain and trauma of the injury, but are often overwhelmed with endless reports, forms to file with insurance companies, the police, and/or employers. During this time, the injuring party or entity may want to encourage you to quickly agree to a predetermined settlement or to convince you that compensation is not justified. Before agreeing to this, there are several points that you want to consider and perhaps consult with an attorney.
An injury cannot easily be expressed by an exact amount. Calculating economic loss estimates your losses for the past and future. For example, if the injury you received due to another’s negligence causes you to be disabled, you may include the lost earnings up to trial and the future loss of earning capacity. Depending on the type of injury, a court could find that punitive damages are necessary due to the injuring party’s intent to do harm or careless disregard for your safety. These damages are designed to punish parties who do wrongful acts and discourage similar conduct from others. Minnesota courts have held punitive damages to be appropriate in a variety of cases, including wrongful death, injuries and death caused by drunk drivers, sexual abuse by clergy, and forcing employees to take lie detector tests in violation of state statute.
You should also consider the ability of the injuring party to pay for the injury. Perhaps, the injuring party has few assets, but has an insurance policy, or perhaps the party’s employer is also responsible. This type of information is not likely to be conveniently provided for you as the injured person.
Proving the Injury and Damages
Even if you are able to put an exact figure on the extent of your injuries, the injuring party is unlikely to agree to that figure. Evidence to show the injury and support the damage figure is often necessary. This may entail gathering medical records, past earning records, funeral expense receipts, etc. Yet, often the damages are not as easy to prove, such as damages for pain, embarrassment, disfigurement, and emotional distress.
Proving punitive damages can be more complicated because it involves proving the intent of the injuring party. This may require evidence of the injuring party’s past behavior and locating witnesses who have knowledge of that behavior. If the correct evidence is presented, a judge and/or jury can find that the wrong-doing party deserved punishment and that punitive damages are necessary to ensure that this type of behavior is deterred.
Disputing the Injury and Damages
Normally, the injuring party will not quietly accept your claims of injury and damages. Rather, there is likely to be a dispute as to whether there was an injury, who is responsible for the injury, and what amount of money is necessary to return you to your original state prior to the injury.
You and your attorney may be able to reach a settlement with the insurance companies or with the injuring party itself. However, you should remember that if the terms of the settlement appear unfair, going to trial is an option.
Whether settling out of court or going to trial, the injuring party is most likely to have attorneys working on its behalf. It would be wise for you to seek advice and representation from an attorney to aid you in the process of calculating damages, proving the injury and damages, solving disputes, and negotiating the proper settlement.
Consult legal counsel to determine the applicability of the information in this website to your circumstances. The information contained in this website is not intended to provide legal advice to you and you should not rely on this information other than to obtain a general understanding of the concepts and terms discussed.