Torts and Contracts: Everything You Need to Know
Torts and contracts are legal terms in commercial and contract law. Are both terms the same or different?3 min read
Contract law deals with the fulfillment of promises made by parties in voluntary agreement. In contracts, the rights and obligations of the contracting parties are based on the provisions of the agreement between the parties. The parties entering into a contract must form the agreement willingly without force. The contract can only be valid if the parties involved agree to the provisions of the agreement.
In other words, a party cannot force another party to enter into a contract. For this reason, damages arising from contractual disputes are often due to a misunderstanding between the parties as the provisions of the contract are clear to them. Damages awarded in contract disputes are usually not punitive, rather, they help restore the rights of the aggrieved party.
Contract law is concerned about the formation, drafting, and outcomes of agreements. These conditions make the contract legally enforceable, and failure to uphold the provisions lead to liability, i.e., the duty of obligation of both parties to each other regarding the contract. Remedies of contract breach include specific performance, rescission, and reformation of the contract.
Tort law is concerned about involuntary responsibilities to ensure our actions are not detrimental to others. In Tort law, the courts create rights and obligations under common law using precedence from three categories including:
- Nuisance, and
Tort focuses on injuries such as the action of a person that harms another person's property, reputation, health, and others. Unlike contracts, torts are not based on the consent of the parties involved. Generally, torts occur when a party's action affects the profit, safety, health, or privacy of another. If the offender can establish that the aggrieved consented to their harmful actions, it can ask the court to dismiss the victim's damages claims. In torts claim, damages serve as a compensation for the loss the victim suffered. Additionally, tort suits can end in the court awarding punitive damages to punish the defendant.
There are two aspects of Tort Law including:
- Intentional Tort, and
- Unintentional Tort
The two aspects use different methods of considering liability. Liability is present if the action of the defendant includes assault, battery, intentional or unintentional harm to motion, negligence, tort against a person or property among others. The concept is called "duty of care" for every individual to all. Equitable remedies of torts include mandatory injunctions and prohibitive injunctions to prevent future torts. For example, a driver must use the road appropriately under prevailing road and weather conditions to ensure that he or she does not drive in a way that will endanger the lives or property of other road users.
Voluntary assumption of a contract can increase the tort liability obligation over what is applicable under normal circumstances. For example, a host is not liable if his visitor had too many drinks at his party and hit a pedestrian while driving home. Alternatively, a nightclub may be liable if it sells too much drink to its patrons and allows them to drive their cars out of its parking lot while drunk.
Contract law and tort law fall within the purview of civil law. In civil law, court orders and money are used to enforce judicial decisions, not jail time. In civil cases, the suing party is known as the plaintiff while the offender is called the defendant. When you are sued in a civil case, you will be summoned to appear in court rather than being arrested. Instead of State prosecution, the suing party also appears in court with an attorney.
If the court rules against you, the judge will order you to perform an act such as paying money to the plaintiff or restoring their rights. You only go to prison if you didn't follow the court's decision, and found to be in contempt of court. Contract law is not concerned about the innocence or guilt of the disputing parties. The court's job is to identifying who is right.
In criminal law, the defendant is innocent until proven guilty. Thus, the case must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. A crime is an action that violates public law and pits the offender against federal or State authorities. The State oversees the prosecution, and the office of the District Attorney represents the victim in court. If found guilty, the defendant can serve time, do community service, pay a fine, or face capital punishment according to the severity of the crime.
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