Difference between Torts and Other Laws

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A tort can be defined as a wrongful act performed by one person to another which results in breach of duty. Torts fall under the category of civil law. Tort law describes what legal injury is and specifies the circumstances in which one can be held liable for another’s’ injury. The law of tort covers many areas but mainly focuses on two major categories, the act can either be intentional or an accident. For instance if we took a case where a person named Cate was driving and accidentally hit a person named Jane. Jane, who was run over has the capacity to take legal action against Cate for negligence. Jane would have to prove Cate owed her duty of care not to run her over and that she failed to achieve the standard of care required to prevent the injury. Tort law is very distinct from criminal law and contract law (Singer & La Fond, 2007).

In law suits involving torts, the injury is not only physical injury. Injuries are broadly defined and include property rights. Similarly the compensation that is awarded by the court is also for a variety of interests. Interests that are intangible like emotional distress are compensated unlike in contract law.  In criminal it is the state that files a case against a defendant. The wrongful act is against the state. In civil law or in torts the private party who files the case becomes the plaintiff.

One main difference between criminal law and tort law is the punishment. In criminal law the punishment can be in form of jail time, fines or capital punishment .There is never any jail time or capital punishment in the law of tort. The difference between contract law and torts is that, only in tort the plaintiff can be awarded punitive damages. Punitive damages are damages which are paid in excess of the actual loss suffered, they are mostly offered when the defendant acted with intent of malice or negligence (Harpwood, 2005).

Criminal law and civil law differ in term of burden of proof. In criminal law the burden of proof rests solely on the state. The prosecutor must proof that the defendant is guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. However there special circumstances in which the defendant has to prove themselves. This would happen if he or she claims insanity or self defense. In civil law or torts the burden of proof rests initially with the plaintiff then depending on the circumstances it shifts to the defendant. A good example of this is when a plaintiff files a prima facie (Harlow, 2005).

There are various protections that are specified in criminal law. For example one cannot be charged for an offence for a law that was enacted after the act was performed. There is also a protection law against unreasonable searches. Another protection is against double jeopardy, which states that one can’t be tried for a lesser charge after being found not guilty for a greater charge. There are laws that prohibit forced self incrimination and enforce the right to a speedy trial and right to an attorney. In torts which fall under civil law there are no protection laws. In a civil case an attorney can request the other party to provide paper work or make a visit without the need of a warrant (Hall, 2005).  

Though there are several differences between civil and criminal law, the two also have similarities. In both civil and criminal law ignorance of the law is no defence.This is put in place because anyone who does anything illegal would always defend themselves that they are ignorant of the law. This would lead to a lot of lawlessness  

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