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What is a Personal Injury Tort?

Nicole Madison
Updated Jan 21, 2024
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A personal injury tort is a civil matter involving the harm one person causes another by failing to take reasonable precautions or exercise a reasonable level of care. Usually, personal injury tort involves cases in which a person causes harm unintentionally as opposed to criminal cases in which one person means to injure another. Interestingly, a personal injury tort can involve harm that is physical as well as psychological. In fact, personal injury sometimes consists of harm to a person’s reputation that causes him to lose clients, a job, or income as well.

Laws regarding personal injury tort vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In many places, however, a person can sue for personal injuries and recover compensation for a range of damages. For example, a plaintiff may be awarded compensation for the loss or damage of property, loss of income, or damage to his reputation. A person may also sue for pain, suffering, and medical expenses. Many jurisdictions also allow people to sue for legal costs incurred in pursuing their personal injury tort cases.

In many places, personal injury cases depend on the liability of the accused wrongdoer. Often, the plaintiff in a case has to demonstrate that the defendant failed to exercise precautions or act in a reasonably careful manner. For example, if a business owner fails to secure a sign and it falls on one of his customers and injures him, he may be liable in a personal injury case. Likewise, if a doctor operates on the wrong individual, he may face a medical malpractice lawsuit, which is a type of personal injury case.

One of the most important things to remember about personal injury tort cases is that they involve injuries that were unintentional. If, for example, a person deliberately shoots another, this would normally be considered a criminal act. If, on the other hand, a person fails to make sure the area is clear of others before hunting and shoots a human, this may be considered a personal injury tort. Likewise, a doctor who commits medical malpractice has usually unintentionally injured his patient and may face a personal injury lawsuit.

Often, reckless behavior that leads to injury is also considered a personal injury tort. For example, if a person intentionally drives his car recklessly and injures another party, he may face a personal injury lawsuit. This may be due to the fact that he probably didn’t intend to injure the victim of his reckless driving, despite the intentional reckless operation of his vehicle. Certain types of reckless behavior may also draw criminal charges, however.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison , Writer
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.

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Nicole Madison

Nicole Madison


Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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