Tort law in Canada concerns the treatment of the law of torts, which is covered by the law of obligations. A tort, in common law jurisdictions, is a wrong that involves a breach of a civil duty owed to someone else.
The term “Personal Injury” is most commonly used to refer to a type of tort lawsuit alleging that the plaintiff’s injury has been caused by the negligence of another, but also arises in defamation torts. A person who suffers a tortuous injury is entitled to receive “damages”, usually financial compensation, from the person or people responsible – or liable – for those injuries. Tort law defines what is a legal injury and, therefore, whether a person may be held liable for an injury they have caused. Legal injuries are not limited to physical injuries. Tort cases therefore comprise such varied topics as auto accidents, defamation, and product liability (for defective consumer products), among many others.
In much of the common law world, the most prominent tort liability is negligence. If the injured party can prove that the person believed to have caused the injury acted negligently – that is, without taking reasonable care to avoid injuring others – tort law will allow compensation. However, tort law also recognizes intentional torts, where a person has intentionally acted in a way that harms another, and “strict liability,” which allows recovery under certain circumstances without the need to demonstrate negligence. Torts may be categorized in a number of ways: one such way is to divide them into Negligence Torts, and Intentional Torts.
The standard action in tort is negligence. The tort of negligence provides a cause of action leading to damages, or to relief, in each case designed to protect legal rights, including those of personal safety, property, and, in some cases, intangible economic interests. Negligence actions include claims coming primarily from car accidents and personal injury accidents of many kinds, including clinical negligence, worker’s negligence and so forth. Product liability cases, such as those involving warranties, may also be considered negligence actions, but there is frequently a significant overlay of additional lawful content.
“Liability” in tort law refers to the idea of one person being liable for the harm caused by another, because of some legally relevant relationship. An example might be a parent and a child, or an employer and an employee. You can sue an employer for the damage to you by their employee, which was caused “within the scope of employment.” This is called respondent superior. For example, if a shop employee spilled cleaning liquid on the supermarket floor, and you slipped and fell, suffering injuries, you could sue the employee who actually spilled the liquid, or sue the employers. In the aforementioned case, the latter option is more practical as they are more likely to have more money. The law replies “since your employee harmed the claimant in the course of his employment, you bear responsibility for it, because you have the control to hire and fire him, and reduce the risk of it happening again.”
Intentional torts are any intentional acts that are reasonably foreseeable to cause harm to an individual, and that do so. Intentional torts have several subcategories, including torts against the person, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and other. The common law intentional torts are applicable in Ontario and include battery.
Battery involves an actual unwanted physical contact that is intentional. The contact can be by one person (the tortfeasor) of another (the victim), or the contact may be by an object brought about by the tortfeasor. For example, the intentional contact by a car is a battery. Unlike criminal law, which recognizes degrees of various crimes involving physical contact, there is but a single tort of battery. Lightly flicking a person’s ear is battery, as is severely beating someone with a tire iron. Neither is there a separate tort for a battery of a sexual nature. However, a jury hearing a battery case is free to assess higher damages for a battery in which the contact was particularly offensive or harmful.