When a party is injured as a result of the actions of another, they have the right to bring a case of civil tort. These civil actions allow the injured to seek financial compensation for the harm incurred. Cases of personal injury may range from those resulting from automobile accidents, defective products, dog attacks, wrongful death, and more. The vast majority of torts are based on unintended negligence. In addition to negligence, cases may be based on intentional torts or strict liability.
Basics of Negligence
Negligence stems from a breach of duty to act with reasonable care that leads to damages. Typically, the defendant will have caused harm to another based on actions (or inaction) that are deemed to be careless. Negligence cases are the most common types of tort claims. To prevail, the plaintiffs must prove that negligence was the reason for the injuries they suffered and entitles them to pursue financial redress.
Claims of strict liability are often those filed against entities that design or manufacture defective products. It is not necessary for the injured party to prove manufacturer negligence. It is sufficient to prove the defective product is unreasonably dangerous for the intended use. Sometimes defendants may still be liable even when an attempt was made to prevent risks of harm. Strict liability may apply to defendants who conduct inherently dangerous actions that lead to injuries. Strict liability is based on reducing exposure to danger among the public.
When a party deliberately causes harm, they may face an intentional tort claim, which is among the oldest types of tort actions. This type of tort is most closely associated with criminal-type law because the action is willful in nature. Examples may include assault, battery, infliction of emotional hardship and others. The principle of negligence is the basis for most torts, largely because insurance companies are those likely to pay compensation; these insurance contracts usually are not applicable for intentional actions.
Relation to Dog Bite Claims
Colorado laws relating to dog bites may lend themselves to torts of strict liability and negligence.
Strict liability Dog owners may be held strictly liable in cases where a dog bites someone who is legally upon public or private property that results in “serious bodily injury” or death. Serious bodily injuries are those having a reasonable likelihood of resulting in death, permanent deformity, or functional impairment. These may include second-degree fractures or burns. Only economic damages may be sought in these claims.
Negligence claims must show:
- The owner had a reasonable duty to care.
- This duty was breached.
- The failure caused the victim's injuries (economic or noneconomic).
- “Negligence per se” may be applicable when the dog's owner did not comply with laws or regulatory requirements.
- Noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, may be recoverable.
Intentional “Road Rage” Cases
As mentioned earlier, intentional torts are rarely brought because injury compensation is typically sought from the negligent party's insurance company. Incidents of “road rage” are increasingly common occurrences. A driver may become extremely irritated with the actions of another driver and demonstrate dangerous types of aggressive behavior. Examples include cutting off another motorist, following too closely (tailgating), or deliberately colliding with another vehicle. Claims brought resulting from these intentional acts would not be the responsibility of the defendant's auto insurance provider.
Relation to Criminal Law
We mentioned before that intentional torts are those within the category most closely associated with criminal law. Many intentional torts stem from criminal acts, which are crimes contrary to societal interests. Intentional torts are applicable solely for damages to people or property. Criminally-based charges are brought by the government and can include penalties such as incarceration. Civil matters may result solely in economic compensation for liable parties.
Those who have been harmed by another party may pursue civil personal injury actions to recover compensation for damages. The basis for these claims may be negligence, strict liability, or intentional torts. Having an experienced personal injury attorney to guide you through the process is critical to success. These types of claims each have unique intricacies that generally require assistance from seasoned legal counsel.