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What is a tort and why does it matter to you?

Posted by Scott M. Peterson | Sep 28, 2015 | 0 Comments

When I was in law school one of my roommates would always ask “how was torts today?”  Now, I think he just enjoyed saying the word “tort,” but what he probably didn't realize was that torts, more than most other areas of law, had an actual impact on his day to day life.

The reason for this is that tort law protects all of us as we go about our day to day lives.

So, what exactly is a tort?  A tort is a wrongful act (other than a breach of contract) that can lead to civil liability.

But Why Is It Important To You?

So what does a tort have to do with you?  Well you probably drive a car, venture outside of your home and on occasion go to a doctor.  You also probably eat food from a grocery store and take over the counter or prescription drugs.

What do all of these things have to do with torts?

Each of these areas of daily life have been made safer for consumers in part because of the fact that under the law civil liability may be imposed for a wrongful act.

When you drive a car you know that – for the most part – the manufacturer of your car has complied with safety standards (recent news headlines notwithstanding).  You also know that if someone hits you because they were texting while driving you have some hope of being made whole – economically that is.

When you venture outside of your home you know that generally the sidewalks will be maintained in good repair.

When you go to the doctor you know that she will do her best to diagnose and treat your condition – but that if she makes a mistake, you may have some recourse to be made whole.

When you eat food from a grocery store you can be reasonably confident that the producers of the food have complied with safety regulations, and that you won't for example be exposed to e-coli.  You can also be assured that if you are exposed or they fail to follow regulations, you may have some recourse.

When you take over the counter or prescription drugs you can feel safe in knowing that the manufacturer is not selling you something that has been recalled.

When people hear about “tort law” or “trial lawyers” they often think about “frivolous lawsuits” that they see in the paper – someone trying to sue McDonalds because they found a hair in their chicken nugget, for example.

In reality tort law is responsible for holding people and companies accountable – whether for texting while driving and causing an accident, selling food that has expired, failing to pay attention to a medical concern or selling medicine that has been recalled.  Tort law allows consumers a chance to level the playing field, and whether you realize it or not tort law plays a large role in your day to day safety.

If you have a question about consumer rights or personal injury give us a call.  We're always happy to help.

About the Author

Scott M. Peterson

Scott M. Peterson is the founding partner of D'Orazio Peterson, having left a partnership at a large regional law firm to limit his practice and focus on helping people protect their families.


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