Tort-ally Awesome: Unraveling the Mysteries of Tort Law

Navigating the Tort-urous Terrain: What is a Tort, Anyway?
Apr 2, 2023


Ah, torts – the bread and butter of many a personal injury attorney and the bane of first-year law students everywhere. But what exactly is a tort, and why does it sound like a delicious dessert that's been horribly misspelled? In this article, we'll delve into the fascinating world of tort law, exploring its origins, key principles, and various types (both tasty and otherwise). So, grab a fork and dig in – and don't worry, we promise to keep the legal jargon to a minimum (and the dry humor to a tasteful level).

Tort Law: A Brief (but Delicious) History

The word "tort" hails from the Latin "tortum," which means "twisted" or "wrong." While this may evoke images of a scrumptious pastry, it actually refers to a wrongful act or injury that leads to civil (rather than criminal) liability. Tort law has its roots in English common law, where it developed as a means to provide compensation for individuals who suffered harm at the hands of others.

Over time, tort law has evolved into a complex and multifaceted area of the law, encompassing a wide range of civil wrongs and remedies. Today, tort law serves as a cornerstone of the legal system, providing a framework for resolving disputes and compensating injured parties (and keeping personal injury attorneys gainfully employed). Are you still wondering, "what is a tort?"

The Three Flavors of Torts

Much like a well-stocked dessert cart, the world of torts offers a delectable assortment of options. While torts can be classified in various ways, they are generally divided into three main categories: intentional torts, negligence, and strict liability. Let's take a closer look at each type, shall we?

  1. Intentional Torts: As the name suggests, intentional torts involve deliberate acts that cause harm to another person. Examples include assault, battery, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. In other words, if you intentionally throw a pie in someone's face, you might find yourself on the hook for an intentional tort (not to mention a waste of a perfectly good dessert).
  2. Negligence: This is perhaps the most well-known (and litigated) category of torts. Negligence occurs when a person fails to exercise reasonable care, resulting in harm to another party. To prove negligence, a plaintiff must typically establish four elements: duty, breach, causation, and damages. So, if you're too busy daydreaming about cake to notice the banana peel on the floor, and someone slips and gets injured, you could be found negligent (and maybe a little clumsy).
  3. Strict Liability: In certain cases, a person can be held liable for harm caused to another party, regardless of intent or negligence. Strict liability typically applies in situations involving inherently dangerous activities or defective products. For example, if you decide to host a wild animal tea party and one of your guests is injured by a wayward tiger, you could be held strictly liable (and perhaps questioned about your choice of party entertainment).

Tort Law: The Ingredients for a Successful Claim

While torts come in many shapes and sizes, they share some common ingredients that are essential for a successful claim. These include:

  1. Duty: In tort law, duty refers to the legal obligation that one party owes to another. For example, a driver has a duty to operate their vehicle safely to avoid causing harm to others on the road.
  2. Breach: A breach occurs when a party fails to fulfill their duty, either through an intentional act or negligence. In other words, if you're driving while texting about your favorite pastry and cause an accident, you've breached your duty to drive safely (and should probably put the phone down).
  3. Causation: To establish causation, a plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant's breach of duty directly caused their injury. This typically involves proving both actual cause (the "but for" test) and proximate cause (whether the harm was a foreseeable result of the defendant's actions).
  4. Damages: Finally, a plaintiff must show that they suffered actual harm as a result of the defendant's breach. Damages can include physical injuries, property damage, emotional distress, or financial loss. If you can't prove damages, your tort claim is like a cake without icing – incomplete and unlikely to satisfy.

Tort Remedies: A Sweet Resolution

The primary goal of tort law is to provide compensation for injured parties, ensuring that those who cause harm are held accountable for their actions. In most cases, this compensation takes the form of monetary damages, which can be divided into several categories:

  1. Compensatory Damages: These damages are designed to make the plaintiff whole again by compensating them for their actual losses, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
  2. Punitive Damages: In some cases, a court may award punitive damages to punish a defendant for particularly egregious conduct and deter others from engaging in similar behavior. Think of punitive damages as the legal equivalent of a stern finger-wagging (with a hefty price tag attached).
  3. Equitable Remedies: In rare cases, a court may grant an equitable remedy, such as an injunction or specific performance, to provide relief when monetary damages are insufficient. While equitable remedies may not be as sweet as a slice of pie, they can still provide a satisfying resolution for injured parties.

Additional Resources for Tort Law Mastery

If you're still hungry for more information about tort law, there are plenty of resources available to help you dig deeper into this fascinating area of the law. For example, check out LSD+ briefs for a wealth of case brief examples that will help you understand what a tort is.


In the world of law, torts hold a special place as the vehicle for resolving civil disputes and compensating those who have been wronged. With its rich history and diverse array of categories, tort law offers an ever-evolving landscape for legal scholars and practitioners alike. So, whether you're a law student struggling to differentiate between intentional torts and negligence or a seasoned attorney with a penchant for pastry-related metaphors, understanding the nuances of tort law is essential for success in the legal profession.

Now that you've had a taste of tort law, we encourage you to continue exploring its many layers and flavors. And as you do so, remember to savor the experience – after all, it's not every day that you get to immerse yourself in a world that combines the thrill of justice with the allure of delectable desserts. Happy tort-ing!

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cryptanon HLS '22 & LSD creator

Tech-focused creator of LSD.Law. I built LSD while applying to law school. I saw unequal access to knowledge and built LSD to level the playing field and help applicants make thoughtful, well-informed decisions in the application process.


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[] WhisperingWillingBoar
@SquidwardsHouse: Thanks! With UPenn now being 4 in the rankings, I personally think it will drive up their applicants and scores.
Could lose applicants too
[] WhisperingWillingBoar
I mean yeah there is always the possibility of either happening, but I don't think the number of high stat applicants will decline because they went up in the rankings.
Why can’t you take it again
@WhisperingWillingBoar: Penn won’t be 4 this year
Yea who knows tbh with the new rankings methodology
Also I know several OOS reverse splitters that go to uva fwiw
Bro Keygan Church is peak and y'all ain't ready for that
if you want some HYPE music that's where it's at
Asgretalos and Tenebre Rosso Sangue are bangers
[] WhisperingWillingBoar
@hilltern: Your guess is as good as mine, but I've always been shocked that they weren't t6. I don't see them falling lower than 6 for the foreseeable future. Penn, to me, does better than Columbia and NYU in placements. So I think it stays within the t6 and Columbia and NYU join penn back into the t6. All of them are great schools, obviously, we are nitpicking very minor details when you get to schools ranked that high and that highly regarded.
Penn Columbia and nyu are the same but nyu does pi better Columbia does biglaw better and Penn is cheaper
U need higher grades at Penn for the v10
Not much of a difference until you hit Chicago at which point HYSC are a league of their own
[] WhisperingWillingBoar
@ConservativeFlagBearer: I agree with your sentiment that HYSC are in a league of their own, but using v10 to distinguish Columbia from penn is odd. While we are pre-law/law school applicants and may care about those, no one in the legal industry cares at all about the v5/10/15/20/30/50 distinctions. They all pay the same (most of them at least) and many of the ones that actually pay more are ranked lower because they are smaller. NYU is the best school for public interest, maybe outside of yale.
What does v5/10 etc mean?
I said they’re basically the same, but this is something that differentiates them. V10 is desirable to some due to exit ops. And i think HLS has much better PI ops than NYU.
Vault rankings, basically rankings for BL firms
Anyone willing to give opinion on a 166 3.56 Puerto Rican, currently working as a biglaw paralegal? :)
For GW and Georgetown
@FurtiveBonobo: youre below both 25ths for georgetown and both medians for GW so in either case i think it'll be tough...i think even with URM status georgetown will be a reach but GW could be a lock with strong statements/applying earlier
do you plan on retaking the lsat?
Yeah, in October
do your best and you'll kill it!
Does anyone know much about the University of Minnesota? I have a 165 LSAT score but a 3.09 CAS GPA. I have a valid reason for the GPA and I will obviously explain that. I was planning on applying Early Decision, but I’m not sure if I should wait until after the October LSAT to try for a better score or if it would be better to get it in earlier.
Any thoughts on a 168 3.7? Thinking of applying to Georgetown early decision. Korean American dual citizen who is currently a senior at Georgetown
Retake lsat and break 171 and yeah you got a sho
Unless you take a bunch of classes and get A+’s and somehow break median
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