Liability in Contract and Tort: Everything You Need to Know
Liability in contract and tort will depend on the circumstances that arise from each unique case.4 min read
Liability in contract and tort will depend on the circumstances that arise from each unique case. Both contract and tort law are part of the civil rules, however, there are several differences between these two areas of law.
Difference Between Contract and Tort Law
There are 3 main differences in these two areas of law, and they include the following:
1.Behavior and responsibilities of the parties
2.Statute of limitations
Specifically, contract law was established to identify the rights and responsibilities of the parties who enter into contracts. Tort law, however, identifies duties of the general public as to what type of behavior is socially acceptable. Therefore, while contract law identifies how parties should be treating and acting toward one another, tort law identifies how one party should be acting toward another party.
While these concepts are entirely different, both laws do have certain statutes of limitations; contract law provides a longer statute of limitations than tort law. Also, the damages in contract and tort law are unique. Usually, someone can’t recover punitive damages under contract law. However, tort law allows this type of recovery.
Aspects of Contract Law
The aspects of contract law are quite simple. The relationship exists between the parties identified in the contract. The contract is a legally binding agreement between the parties. In order for the contract to be enforceable, it must include an offer, acceptance, consideration, and legal capacity. Furthermore, both parties must have mutual assent and fully understand their rights and responsibilities under the contract.
Mutual assent means that the parties voluntarily entered into the contract, and weren’t coerced in any way into signing it. If one of the parties was induced by fraud into signing the contract, then it will be void. Another important item worth noting is the concept of legal capacity. Any one of the following will mean that the party is legally incapacitated, and the contract is unenforceable:
1.Someone who is under the age of eighteen
2.Someone who is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
3.Someone who is mentally incompetent, i.e., mentally handicapped
Aspects of Tort Law
The aspects of tort law involve the concept of negligence. Negligence is based on the non-contractual relationship of the parties involved. The parties might have one of the following relationships with one another:
3.Professional relationship, i.e., lawyer/client, doctor/patient, etc.
4.Don’t have a relationship at all
The main question that arises in tort cases is negligence, which can only be argued if the injured party can prove that a duty of care existed. A duty of care can be found in several instances. For example, if someone has a friend or family over for an event, and the homeowner knows that his floors are wet and slippery but doesn’t advise his friends and family of such, any injury that occurs would be negligence on the part of the homeowner. That is because the homeowner has a duty of care to ensure the safety of his guests. Similarly, a store owner owes a duty of care to his customers to prevent any injuries. Therefore, if someone is injured in a slip and fall accident in any store, whether a grocery store, convenience store, etc., he can file a lawsuit for negligence based on the failure to protect the customer from injury.
Some elements to prove negligence include the following:
1.The harm must be reasonably foreseeable
2.There must be close proximity between the injured party and the negligent party
3.The duty of care must be fair and reasonable
When it comes to the foreseeable factor, it must be known that the injury could occur. This means that the negligent party must reasonably foresee that an injury could occur on his/her property. For example, if a convenience store owner is mopping the floors in his store, it would be reasonably foreseeable that someone might be injured.
When it comes to close proximity, this means that the injury must have occurred on the negligent party’s premises. Therefore, if someone is injured in a slip and fall accident on the steps outside of the store owner’s storefront, this would satisfy the element of close proximity. However, if the injury occurs on the sidewalk a few feet away, this might not satisfy the particular element of proximity.
Lastly, the duty of care must be reasonable. This goes for the above two elements; would the store owner expect to have a duty of care for someone being injured on the sidewalk five feet from his store? This is a fact-based test that must be used in order to identify whether or not a duty of care is in fact reasonable.
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