At its most basic level, it is a civil wrong against another, other than wrongs involving contracts. There are several categories of torts, but I’ll save you the boring legal jargon.
Some examples of common tort claims include:
- Intentional Torts
- Assault:Intentionally causing the reasonable apprehension of an immediate harmful or offensive contact. No physical contact is required.
- Battery: Bringing about harmful or offensive contact with a person (or something within close proximity to that person) without that person’s consent. This requires physical contact.
- False Imprisonment: Intentionally confining another without legal authority.
- Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress: Conduct that causes extreme emotional distress.
- Property Torts
- Trespass to Land:Intentionally entering the land of another without that person’s permission.
- Conversion: Willfully interfering with another person’s personal property in such a way that it deprives that person possession of the same.
- Dignitary Torts
- Defamation: Making a false statement about a person that harms his or her reputation. The statement must be made to a third party.
- Invasion of Privacy: Simply, intruding into another’s personal life without just cause. This is rare.
- Economic Torts
- Fraud: Deceiving another for personal gain.
- Tortious Interference: Knowingly interfering with the business relationship of another.
- Negligence (by far the most common): The failure to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in similar circumstances. This is a harm caused by carelessness, not intentional harm.
This list is not exhaustive, I just picked the ones you probably hear about the most. There are a variety torts, but the thing you should know most of all is that these are not punishable criminally. How do you win? Money, usually. Thus, when you’re sitting on a jury and the defendant really did do it, don’t be offended when the plaintiff asks to be awarded money.