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Types of Torts + Case Examples

tort law

Demystifying Tort Law in Colorado: Types of Torts + Case Examples

When confronting legal matters, it helps to understand distinctions between various branches of law – in particular, tort and criminal law. While both serve to address wrongdoing, they operate in different spheres with distinct principles, types, and consequences. We’ll break down tort law in Colorado: what it is, types of torts, some diverse examples, plus how Veritas can help.

What is Tort Law?

Tort law encompasses civil wrongs that result in harm or injury, whether intentional or unintentional. The primary focus is on providing compensation to the injured party for damages suffered. Unlike criminal law, which involves the state prosecuting the accused for offenses against society, tort law deals with private disputes between individuals or entities.

Types of Torts

Tort law covers several categories, each addressing different types of wrongful conduct:

  1. Negligence:

Perhaps the most common type of tort, negligence involves failure to exercise reasonable care, resulting in harm to another person or property.

Example: Emily is a convenience store manager. One day, she notices a spill on the floor near the entrance but fails to clean it up or place warning signs. Amy, a customer, enters the store and slips on the wet floor, sustaining multiple injuries.

In this scenario, Emily breached her duty of care by failing to promptly address the hazardous condition. Her inaction demonstrates negligence, failing to take reasonable steps to prevent accidents. As a result, Amy has grounds to file a negligence lawsuit against Emily and the store for her injuries.

  1. Intentional Torts:

These types of torts occur when a person deliberately engages in actions that harm another individual or their property.

Example: During a heated argument at a bar, Tom becomes enraged at his friend, Mike, and punches him repeatedly, causing a concussion and skull fractures. Tom's actions constitute an intentional tort – specifically battery. By intentionally striking Mike, Tom violated Mike's bodily integrity and caused harm.

Unlike negligence, which involves a lack of intent to cause harm, intentional torts are characterized by the deliberate nature of the defendant's actions. In this case, Mike can pursue legal action against Tom for injuries resulting from the assault.

  1. Strict Liability:

Under this tort category, individuals or entities can be held liable for harm caused, regardless of intent or fault. Unlike negligence or intentional torts where fault must be proven, strict liability focuses on the inherent risks associated with certain activities or products.

Example: A manufacturing company produces and sells electric scooters. Despite rigorous quality control measures, a defect in the scooter's battery causes it to explode while in use, injuring a rider.

In this case, the company may be held strictly liable for the injuries caused by the defective product. Even if the company exercised reasonable care in manufacturing and testing the scooters, the presence of a defect that resulted in harm triggers strict liability.

Case Study: Tort Examples

Let's delve into a few more real-world scenarios that better illustrate the concepts of tort law in Colorado:

A Case of Negligence: Distracted Driving

On a sunny afternoon in Grand Junction, Colorado, Emily is driving home from work. As she approaches a busy four-way stop, the traffic light turns from red to green and Emily begins to cross the intersection.

Meanwhile, John is driving in the opposite direction. He's running late for a last-minute meeting and receiving urgent text messages on his phone. As he approaches the intersection that Emily is crossing, he glances down to type a quick reply. In this moment, John fails to notice the red light ahead.

Suddenly, there's a loud crash as his truck collides with Emily's vehicle, T-boning her car on the driver's side. The force of the impact sends Emily's car spinning, barely missing a few pedestrians standing on the corner.

In this scenario, John's actions clearly constitute negligence, and Emily may seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. By choosing to engage in texting while driving, John breached his duty of care to safely operate his vehicle and directly caused the accident.

Defamation: Words That Cause Serious Harm

Sarah, a local Durango, Colorado business owner, finds herself the target of a vicious online smear campaign orchestrated by a competitor. False reviews alleging unethical business practices and poor service flood review sites and social media platforms, tarnishing Sarah's reputation and driving away potential customers.

Despite Sarah's efforts to refute the false claims, the damage to her business is done. In this scenario, the competitor's actions constitute defamation, a tort that involves making false statements that harm someone's reputation.

By spreading false allegations about Sarah's business practices, the competitor has damaged Sarah's reputation and caused financial losses. Through the legal process, Sarah seeks to clear her name and recover lost business resulting from the malicious campaign.

Construction Faux Pas: Professional Negligence

Lesley, a Telluride homeowner, hires a contractor, Alex, for a full kitchen renovation. During construction, Alex fails to properly secure electrical wiring when installing new lighting fixtures, ignoring safety protocols and rushing through the job to meet deadlines.

A few days after the renovation is completed, a fire breaks out in Lesley's kitchen due to the faulty wiring. The fire causes extensive damage to her home, including structural damage and loss of personal property. Additionally, a neighbor who attempted to help extinguish the fire suffers severe burns.

In this scenario, Alex's failure to properly secure the electrical wiring constitutes negligence, and both Lesley and the neighbor may pursue a claim against Alex. As a contractor, Alex owed a duty of care to Lesley and others affected by his work. However, Alex breached this duty by failing to follow standard safety protocols, which directly contributed to the fire and resulting damages.

Help for Tort Law Cases in Colorado

Whether you've been injured in a car accident or have suffered harm due to someone else's negligence or intentional actions, it's absolutely critical to seek competent and professional legal guidance.

If you find yourself in need of assistance with a personal injury case in Western Colorado or Eastern Utah, don't hesitate to reach out to Veritas. We are trusted advocates for justice who value integrity and transparency as much as we value winning cases for our clients.

Our experienced team is here to provide the representation and support you need so that you can focus on healing and recovery. We represent all types of personal injury and accident cases, and provide no risk, no recovery, no fee service.

Contact us today for a free consultation, and let us help you navigate the complexities of tort law with both expertise and compassion.