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The principles of tort law pervade modern society because they spell out the duties of care that we owe each other in our private lives. Tort law has had a significant impact on business because modern technology poses significant dangers and the modern market is so efficient at distributing goods to a wide class of consumers.
Unlike criminal law, tort law does not require the tortfeasor to have a specific intent to commit the act for which he or she will be held liable to pay damages. Negligence—that is, carelessness—is a major factor in tort liability. In some instances, especially in cases involving injuries caused by products, a no-fault standard called strict liability is applied.
What constitutes a legal injury depends very much on the circumstances. A person can assume a risk or consent to the particular action, thus relieving the person doing the injury from tort liability. To be liable, the tortfeasor must be the proximate cause of the injury, not a remote cause. On the other hand, certain people are held to answer for the torts of another—for example, an employer is usually liable for the torts of his employees, and a bartender might be liable for injuries caused by someone to whom he sold too many drinks. Two types of statutes—workers’ compensation and no-fault automobile insurance—have eliminated tort liability for certain kinds of accidents and replaced it with an immediate insurance payment plan.
Among the torts of particular importance to the business community are wrongful death and personal injury caused by products or acts of employees, misrepresentation, defamation, and interference with contractual relations.
Catarina falsely accuses Jeff of stealing from their employer. The statement is defamatory only if
Garrett files a suit against Colossal Media Corporation for defamation. Colossal has said that Garrett is a “sleazy, corrupt public official” (and provided some evidence to back the claim). To win his case, Garrett will have to show that Colossal acted with
Big Burger begins a rumor, using social media, that the meat in Burger World is partly composed of ground-up worms. The rumor is not true, as Big Burger well knows. Its intent is to get some customers to shift loyalty from Burger World to Big Burger. Burger World’s best cause of action would be
Wilfred Phelps, age 65, is driving his Nissan Altima down Main Street when he suffers the first seizure of his life. He loses control of his vehicle and runs into three people on the sidewalk. Which statement is true?
Jonathan carelessly bumps into Amanda, knocking her to the ground. He has committed the tort of negligence