Tort/Personal Injury

The field of tort law is a major area of law that encompasses a civil wrong, intentional or accidental, whereby a person or party incurs an injury from another person or party. A party to a lawsuit can be as small as a single person, or as large as a corporation or group of many thousands of people (in the case of a class action lawsuit). A tort for which one can seek civil remedy can often overlap with areas of criminal law for which one can be prosecuted. Examples of such overlap include intentional torts such as assault, wrongful death, fraud and defamation. While crimes must be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt” in a criminal court of law, a lesser burden of proof is required in a Tennessee civil court of law, that being that it is “more likely than not” that the particularized tort occurred.

The field of tort law also includes all cases of negligence, whereby a party seeking civil compensation and bringing a lawsuit (Plaintiff) can sue another (Defendant) for monetary compensation for any injuries proven. In any negligence case, the burden will be on the Plaintiff to prove:

  1. a duty of the Defendant to the Plaintiff;
  2. the Defendant’s breach of that duty;
  3. causation (cause-in-fact and proximate causation) and
  4. damages.

Tennessee analyzes torts under a comparative fault system, which can serve to reduce liability and damages recoverable by percentages based upon each party’s comparative negligence or contribution to a particularized injury. Such analysis can get complicated when a lawsuit involves multiple plaintiffs and defendants with differing degrees of contribution on a given injury or across multiple injuries.

Once an injury has been established, damages must be proven by a Plaintiff in order for that Plaintiff to receive compensation. Damages can include monetary compensation for damaged or destroyed property, compensation for medical bills incurred, pain and suffering, lost wages, emotional injury, etc.

With any tort suit, jurisdictional issues and a statute of limitations will apply that will serve to direct where a Plaintiff can file a lawsuit or limit the amount of time that a Plaintiff has to proceed with a case. Statutes of limitation differ for different types of tort actions. Because of such statutes of limitation, it is important that any person or persons seeking to pursue another under a theory of tort law consult with and retain an attorney as soon as possible for multiple reasons, to prevent such statute from running and thereby closing the window on a viable lawsuit and also to enable the attorney of choice to properly build and investigate a case, which often requires research and record gathering on behalf of the attorney.