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Analysis of Liabilities in Law of Torts (Indian Perspective)

What Are The Law Of Torts?

Tort is a term which is generally not used in our daily conversations, but if you are indulged in any type of civil lawsuit, you may come across this word. The topic "Law of Torts" includes various areas in legal practice. Generally, it covers all suits of civil law except contractual disputes.

The lawsuits which involve contracts come under Contract law, which is governed by Indian Contract Act, 1872 in India. The term 'tort' is a French word which in english means 'wrong' and in roman equalises to the term 'delict'. The word 'tort' is derived from the latin word 'Tortum' which generally means 'twisted'. When one twists or deviates from his straightforward path, he is considered to have committed a tort.

Legally, a tort is defined as "a wrongful act or an infringement of a right which leads to a civil legal liberty." In general, tort occurs when a party inflicts some damage or injury on another party, and the injured party sues the other party for compensation. The concept of tort law is to redress a wrong done to a person and provide relief for the wrongful act of another party.

Usually, the damages are monetary/un-liquidated damages (the compensation should not be previously determined or agreed between the parties) which are decided by a court of law based on the merits of the case. The original intent of the tort law is to provide the cost of the incurred damages or injuries. The injury can be of any type, physical injury, mental injury, economic injury, or an injury to your definition. In torts, the injured party is known as the plaintiff and the party which has caused damage is called the defendant.

What Is Tort Law Liability?

The party that commits a tort is known as a tortfeasor. The term 'tortfeasor' can be referred to a single person or any group of persons. The contribution of each and every tortfeasor can be different and varies from the degree of damage they have inflicted upon the victim. Sometimes, the victim is also made liable with the tortfeasors if his action also contributed to the injury that is inflicted. The person who commits a tortious act is not referred to as guilty but liable.

A tortfeasor incurs the tort liability, thus, has to reimburse the plaintiff with the cost that is determined by the court of law. The tortfeasor is always bound to pay the damages to the injured party. There are various kinds of liabilities under Tort law:
  • Joint Liability
  • Vicarious Liability
  • Liability for Third Person
  • Victim Liability
  • Parent Liability
  • Strict Liability
  • Absolute Liability

Joint Liability

When several tortfeasors are held liable for any tortious act, then they all are termed as Joint Tortfeasors. Generally, it can be said that for a case there is only one plaintiff but the number of defendants are more than one. The liability of all the defendants arises equally. The amount of the compensation is divided between all the defendants on the basis of degree of liability (i.e. the amount of damage inflicted by the tortfeasor on the victim) and the rules and the provisions which are particularly related to the jurisdiction. If the case arises that one defendant compensates the victim with the complete damage awarded by the court, then the victim can't force the other defendants for the compensation of their part. Business Partnership can be considered as the example of this Liability.

Vicarious Liability

When superiors are held liable for the tortious act committed by their subordinates or juniors. This liability is also known as Employers's liability. Basically, an employer will be held responsible for the faulty acts of their employee in the course of his employment. Constitutional tort liability can be considered as one of the frequently seen example in India, where the state is held liable for the act of its employees.

Liability For Third Person

There are some instances in which Third-Party Interactions can lead to occurrence of liabilities. This mostly occurs in the cases of Insurance claims. If seen through the perspective of the business owner, when any other party claims over the insurance formed between the first and second party, it is known as the third party liability insurance.

Victim Liability

The case of liability in which the victim himself contributes to the tortious act. This type of liability is also called Plaintiff's liability. This often occurs when the victim doesn't take a reasonable amount of care, and hence the negligence takes place, thus, making him liable too. This can be consequential and may result in the damages to be reduced or completely barred. Rash and negligent driving by the victim can be a good example for this liability.

Parent Liability

When parents are held liable for the tortious acts committed by their children. In this liability, it is generally a case in which the child is minor. There can be various examples in which Parent Liability occurs.

Strict Liability

This liability occurs when a tortious act is committed by a person even without any intention of violating a statute. Still, anyhow, the act leads to the violation of any statute of any right of any person or entity. In such situations, the party has the obligation to prove that the defendant is liable for the tortious act and the party has no fault (i.e. no tortious intention). The Bhopal Gas Tragedy is one of the most famous examples of this liability.

Absolute Liability

When the law holds a person or entity legally responsible for committing an act or offence without considering any element of fault or intention. The absolute liability was, therefore, evolved in the Oleum gas leak case (M.C.Mehta v. Union of India). This can be said to be a strong legal tool against rogue corporations that were negligent towards health risks for the public. A defendant will not be in position to limit his or her liability on the grounds that there was a reasonable mistake of fact.

Thus, the liability in law of torts can take on many different forms depending on the circumstances of the incident. Generally, tort liability is associated with monetary awards, but some forms of liability may lead to other remedies (such as restraining order or an injunction).

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