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What Is a Tortfeasor?

Written by Moses & Rooth on February 20, 2020

If you’ve been injured in any type of accident and are pursuing an insurance claim, one question that you’ll have to answer that will be asked by the insurance company is that of who the tortfeasor is in your claim. This word, along with other legal jargon, may not be one that you’re familiar with. At the law offices of Moses & Rooth, our experienced personal injury lawyers can help you to navigate the law and make sense of complicated terms and rules. Here’s what you need to know about the word “tortfeasor” and its implications in a personal injury claim–

What Is a Tortfeasor?

One of the best definitions for the word tortfeasor comes from the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University Law School. According to this source, a tortfeasor is simply one who commits a tort.

So, what’s a tort?

A tort is an act or an omission that causes harm or injury to another and amounts to a civil wrong. As a result, the courts can impose liability.  There are three types of torts: strict liability torts, negligence torts, and intentional torts. Most injury cases deal with negligence torts.

To sum it up, a tortfeasor is a party who causes harm to another by committing a tort. 

Why Does It Matter?

If a party breaches the duty of care owed to another and harm to the latter results, the former party has committed a tort and can be held liable for the harm. However, in order to prove liability and recover damages, the injured party will need to prove the details of the tort. Namely, the following four elements must be established: the tortfeasor owed a duty of care to the plaintiff; the tortfeasor breached the duty of care; the breach of the duty of care was the proximate cause of harm; and the plaintiff suffered damages as a result. 

An insurance company will ask who the tortfeasor is in a claim because they need to know who breached the duty of care, the details of that breach, and who should be held liable. Someone who does not commit a tort cannot be held liable for the damages to another. 

Other Important Parties in a Personal Injury Claim

In addition to the word tortfeasor–which, remember, is the person who commits the tort (civil wrong)–other important terms to know are:

  • Plaintiff – the party who is bringing forth a lawsuit
  • Defendant – the party against whom a civil action is being filed (i.e. the tortfeasor). 

Posted Under: Personal Injury

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