What is Tort Law?

A tort is any wrongful, but non-criminal, act for which the law provides a remedy. Almost every lawsuit that's litigated in the United States has to do with at least one alleged tort. This is because virtually everything that can be sued over (breach of contract being the major exception) is considered a tort.

There are many different types of torts. Some of them are very obscure, and won't be discussed. This article is meant to provide a general overview of the torts that the average person is most likely to deal with.

LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor, , Attorney at Law


Battery is one of the simplest torts. It is simply defined as any harmful or offensive contact with the body of another, without the victim's consent. So, punching someone in the face is an act of battery, as is grabbing someone inappropriately. Generally, battery is only worth suing over if it has resulted in injuries that required the victim to incur significant medical expenses. Read more.

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Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

Another common tort is intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED). IIED is committed when someone, acting with the intent to cause emotional distress, engages in outrageous conduct, causing severe emotional or psychological stress in the victim. Generally, whether or not the conduct was sufficiently "outrageous" to create liability is up to a jury to decide.


Negligence is, by far, the most common tort that is litigated in the state and federal court systems of the U.S. Most people don't go around intending to cause harm to other people. However, many people are careless. And, sometimes, people are hurt because of the carelessness of others. When this happens, they often have a cause of action for negligence. Negligence is committed when somebody, having a duty to exercise reasonable care, engages in conduct that falls below the standard of "reasonable care," thereby causing harm to somebody else. Negligence can arise in almost any situation, from the owner of a grocery store failing to clean up a spill, causing a slip-and-fall injury, to a motorist driving recklessly and causing a car accident.

If you believe that somebody has committed a legal wrong against you, you may have a tort claim against them. Obviously, tort law can get very complicated. Accordingly, before you proceed with any type of tort claim, you should consult with a civil litigation attorney who specializes in tort law.

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