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Tort: Definition, Example and Related Terms

What is a Tort ?

A tort is like a legal 'oopsie' that happens when one person or business accidentally causes harm to another, and the law says they should pay for it. It's not always about physical harm, it could be about causing someone to lose money, damaging their reputation, or even invading their privacy.

This is a bit different from crimes, which involve breaking a law and are handled by the government. Here, it's more about setting things right between the parties involved. In a business context, this often involves paying money to the person or business who was wronged.

This is important because it helps keep businesses honest and responsible. For example, if a company manufactures a product that harms consumers, they could be held responsible for a tort and have to pay damages. It's a bit like a game of tag, where if you're 'it' (the one who caused the harm), you have to take responsibility.


  • Scenario Description
    A company manufactures a toy that contains small parts which children can choke on. This would be a tort of negligence. The company has a duty to make sure its products are safe, and in this case, they failed to do that. The company could be held legally responsible and have to pay damages to anyone harmed by the toy.
    A business spreads false rumors about a competitor to gain a market advantage. This would be a tort of defamation. By spreading false information, the business has harmed the competitor's reputation and could be required to pay for the damage they've caused.