A tort is simply a civil wrong that arises from something other than a breach of contract. For instance if you run a red light while operating your motor vehicle and collide with another vehicle, you have committed the tort of negligence. You can be sued for that. A personal injury lawyer can handle a variety of tort claims from auto collisions to medical malpractice.
Likewise if you punch someone in the nose you have committed the tort of assault and battery and you can be sued for that. Many tort claims are covered by insurance. These claims can be tried in front of a judge or jury if the parties are not able to settle their tort claim.
The most common form of tort claim is what is called simple or ordinary negligence. The basic elements of any tort claim are the existence of a duty, the breach of that duty, resulting injury to another party, and proof of the resulting damage or injury.
See Brien Roche’s book Law 101 published by Sphinx Publishing for more information on this subject.
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For more information about torts see the pages on Wikipedia.