Tort law and Personal Injury Law: Are they one and the same?

People can hardly tell the difference between tort lawyers and personal injury attorneys. Anyone who has been caused harm automatically wants to hire a personal injury attorney. This assumption is false and it is the reason for this article. Tort law and Personal Injury law have some similarities and differences, as stated below.

What is Personal Injury in Law?

Personal injury law is a subcategory of tort law that deals with injuries suffered by individuals as a result of the actions and negligence of others.  These injuries could include physical injuries, emotional injuries, and economic losses such as lost wages and medical expenses. Below are some of the common personal injury cases 

  1. Motor Vehicle Accidents

Every year, tons of people are injured by vehicle accidents. Some of those accidents are as a result of the carelessness of other drivers. As a result, victims hire personal injury lawyers to help in court to get compensation for damages. If there is substantial evidence, the plaintiff is entitled to some monetary compensation for personal injuries, which can be physical as well as emotional. 

  1. Workplace Accident

Any injury that occurs as a result of someone working for their employer entitles them to some compensation. Generally, employers state in contracts that employees are going to be well-treated in the event of an injury. Employers who do not cater to the needs of their injured employees can be taken to court by Personal Injury attorneys. Personal injury attorneys can help plaintiffs get the right compensation in court. In addition, defendants can use personal injury doctors to treat their injuries and also to give credibility to their claim for compensation in court. 

  1. Product Liability 

Defective and dangerous products can cause harm and injuries to individuals at home, in public, or even at work. Misleading labels and improper warnings can lead to serious injuries. Furthermore, Some of these products can include dangerous drugs, defective food, chemicals, consumer products as well as children’s products. The parties responsible for the injuries sustained can range from individuals to companies. If individuals get injured as a result of a bad product, they can hire an experienced personal injury attorney to build a civil case for them in court. Accordingly, the attorney will help the plaintiff get the necessary compensation.

  1. Premises Liability

These are accidents that are caused as a result of the dangerous condition of someone’s land. These accidents can occur anywhere. For example, injuries are sustained in grocery stores, public pools, gas stations, and even a neighbour’s home. A leaking tap can cause spillage and lead to injuries to individuals. Another example is falling down the stairs due to a missing handrail. The injured victim should document the events as soon as possible and hire a personal injury lawyer to help them sue for damages.

What is Tort Law?

Before diving into what tort law is all about, we have to know the definition of tort. A tort is therefore the action or lack of action that causes harm to another individual and leads to civil wrong so that the court can declare liability on the defaulter. With this definition, tort law is a branch of civil law that deals with civil wrongdoings that can be punishable by damages. The use of tort law is used to move the burden of loss from the victim to the party at fault. The victim usually seeks redress in court to ask for damages in the form of monetary compensation. 

Types of Torts

The range of torts can range from negligence to actual intentionality on the part of the defaulter. To understand how tort law works, the types of torts need to be visited. Accordingly, there are 3 main categories of torts.

  1. Intentional Torts

These are acts that directly cause harm to the victim. The defendants should know their actions’ omission would cause harm to others. In fact, the defendants committed those actions purposefully. Some examples of intentional torts are battery and assault, false imprisonment, and defamation. For tort law, some convincing evidence needs to be brought forward to win a civil case against the defendant.  

  1. Negligent Torts

These are acts by a defendant that are unreasonably unsafe and eventually put someone in harm’s way. A key difference between negligent tort and intentional tort is the state of mind of the defendant. The defendant is usually very negligent when the tort occurred. This means that the intent of the defendant was not to cause harm to anyone. Although it is not the defendant’s intention, the defendant is held responsible for any harm that occurred. For a personal injury attorney to win a civil case based on negligence, 4 things must be proven. 

  • The defendant must have some sort of legal duty of care to the plaintiff
  • The duty of care must have been breached by the defendant 
  • The defendant’s breach of care  is the cause of the plaintiff’s loss
  • The plaintiff suffered damages that can be solved through monetary compensation.
  1. Strict Liability

Strict liability is when the defendant is held responsible for the harm to the plaintiff even if there is the absence of fault. It is a legal responsibility for damages whether or not the person was at fault or negligent. In tort law, this type of law is applied to damages related to animals. For example, pet keepers are responsible for the damages caused by their pets’ trespassing. 

Differences Between Tort Law and Personal Injury Law

Now that we know what tort law and personal injury law entail, we can differentiate in detail the differences between tort law and personal injury law. 

  1. Type of Case

Personal injury cases involve physical or emotional injuries suffered by individuals due to someone’s actions or negligence. Personal injury cases can be a result of car accidents or defective products. These examples are also tort cases but tort cases have a broader range of cases. These cases include cases that involve causing harm to someone and even harm to their property. Some examples of tort law that do not fall under personal injury law are an invasion of privacy and defamation. 

  1. Legal Standards

For personal injury cases, individuals only need to prove that their injury was a result of someone’s action or inaction to receive compensation. Also, they need to prove that the actions or inaction were either due to negligence or it was intentional. On the other hand, tort law involves individuals meeting different standards depending on the type of case and the type of harm that was caused. For example, in a defamation case, the plaintiff has to prove that a false statement made about them has caused them some harm.

  1. Remedy for Damages

For tort law, there are multiple ways that can be used to remedy damages. Some of those include monetary compensation, punitive damages, and injunctive relief. Punitive damages mean punishing wrongdoers and ensuring that they do not commit wrongdoings in the future. Also, injunctive relief means to ensure someone stops taking or starts taking a particular action.  On the other hand, personal injury law is of the objective to compensate the bearer of the injuries. The forms of compensation known in personal injury law are monetary compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and economic damages. 

  1. Scope 

Tort Law is a  broad category that includes personal injury law but also includes other forms of harm such as nuisance and defamation. However, personal injury law is a subcategory of tort law, that focuses especially on physical or emotional injuries sustained by individuals, as a result of someone else’s actions or inactions. 

  1. Statute of Limitations

Personal injury cases are subject to time limits. In addition, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases ranges from 1 – 6 years from the date of the injury depending on the state. This means defendants generally cannot sue for damages once it has passed 6 years. Meanwhile, the statute of limitations for tort laws depends on the type of case as well as the type of harm that was caused. 


Personal injury involves the injuries to an individual and it does not include their properties. In contrast, tort law involves personal injury law as well as other laws that include the properties of individuals. They are both under civil law but one must know that personal injury law is a subcategory of tort law.

Frequently Asked Questions on Tort Law and Personal Injury Law

  1. What is the Difference Between Tort Law and Criminal Law?

A crime is a wrong committed as a result of the violation of public duty. However, tort law is a wrong committed as a result of the violation of private duty. For example, an individual who has been assaulted can bring criminal charges to the assailant. This individual can also sue for damages caused by the assault. 

  1. Can you Fire a Personal Injury Attorney?

Yes, you can. Individuals can fire their personal injury attorneys at any time. It is wise to consider all possible options before firing the attorney as this decision will affect your finances as well as your case in court. 

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