Articles by Whitcomb Selinsky, PC Attorneys

Torts: The Distinction Between Civil Actions and Crime and Punishment

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By Robert C. T. Reed, Esq. and Nathan J. Veldhuis, Esq.


Black’s Law Dictionary (7th Edition) (1) defines a “tort” as: “A civil wrong for which a remedy may be obtained, usually in the form of damages; a breach of a duty that the law imposes on everyone in the same relation to one another as those involved in a given transaction.” The word, “tort” is a French word which means a “fault” or a “wrong.” (2) Torts are not claims for breach of contract, except in very special and limited contexts. Torts can, but do not have to, constitute crimes. Actions in tort are civil cases, as opposed to criminal cases. An example of a tort that is not necessarily a crime is if a person were to negligently spill boiling water on another person, causing the latter serious burn injuries, or if a person were to negligently cause another to fall down the stairs and suffer injuries.


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About the AuthorNathan J.D. Veldhuis