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Torts Vocabulary List

Assault-the threat or use of force on another that causes that person to have reasonable
apprehension of imminent harmful or offensive contact (or battery)

Assumption of Risk-the act or an instance of a prospective plaintiff’s taking on the risk

of loss, injury, or damage. One that takes on the risk cannot maintain an action against
the party that cause the loss, injury, or damage

Attractive Nuisance-a dangerous condition that may attract children onto land, thereby
causing a risk to their safety. Attractive Nuisance Doctrine-a person who owns land in
which there is a dangerous thing or condition that will foreseeable lure children to
trespass is under the duty to protect the children from danger

Battery-intentional harmful or offensive contact of another

Bystander-one who is present when an event takes place, but who does not directly
become involved


-intentional tort-a tort committed by someone acting with general or specific

intent (Deliberate act)

-Good Samaritan-a statute that exempts from liability a person who voluntarily
renders aid to another in imminent danger but negligently causes injury while rendering

-Danger rule


Charitable Immunity-the immunity of a charitable organization from tort liability

Children-a person under the age of majority/ common law, a person who has not reached
the age of 14

Circumstance-an accompanying or accessory fact, event, or condition, such as a piece of

evidence that indicates the probability of an event

Collateral Source rule-the doctrine that if an injured party receives compensation for the
injuries from a source independent of the tortfeasor, the payment should not be deducted
from the damages that the tortfeasor must pay/insurance proceeds are the most common
collateral source

Common Carrier rule-a carrier that is required by law to transport passengers or freight,
w/out refusal, if the approved fare or charge is paid

Comparative negligence-the principle that reduces a P recovery proportionally to the

plaintiff’s degree of fault in causing the damage, rather than barring recovery completely

Concurrent cause-one of two or more causes that simultaneously create a condition that
no single cause could have brought about or created alone

Consent-agreement, approval, or permission as to some act or purpose, given voluntarily

by a competent person

Contingency fee-a fee charged for a lawyer’s services only if the lawsuit is successful or
is favorably settled out of court

Contributory negligence-the principle that completely bars a P recovery if the damage

suffered is partly the P fault

Conversion-the act of changing from one form or another; the process of being
exchanged/the wrongful possession or disposition of another’s property as if it was one’s
own; an act or a series of acts of willful interference, w/out lawful justification, with an
item of property in a manner inconsistent with another’s right, whereby that other person
is deprived of the use and possession of the property

Custom-a practice that by its common adoption and long, unvarying habit has come to
have the force of the law

Damages:-money claimed by, or ordered to be paid to, a person as compensation for loss
or injury

-actual-an amount awarded to a complainant to compensate for a proven injury or

loss; damages that repay an actual loss

-exemplary-damages awarded in addition to actual damages when the defendant

acted with recklessness, malice, or deceit

-general-damages that the law presumes follow from the type of wrong
complained of /

-nominal-a trifling sum awarded when a legal injury is suffered but when there is
no substantial loss or injury to be compensated


-punitive-damages awarded in addition to actual damages when the defendant

acted with recklessness, malice, or deceit

Defense of others-a justification defense available if one harms or threatens another

when defending a third person

Defense of self-a justification defense available if one harms or threatens another when
defending themselves

Defense of property-a justification defense available if one harms or threatens another

when defending one’s property


Dram Shop-a statute allowing a P to recover damages from a commercial seller of

alcoholic beverages for the P injuries caused by customer’s intoxication

Duty-a legal obligation that is owed or due to another and that needs to be satisfied; an
obligation for which somebody has a corresponding right

Duty to warn-a duty to take some action to prevent harm to another, and for the failure
of which one may be liable depending on the relationship of the parties and

Emergency doctrine -a legal principal exempting a person from the ordinary standard of
reasonable care if that person acted instinctively to meet a sudden and urgent need for
aid/ principal by which consent to medical treatment in a dire situation is inferred when
neither the patient nor a reasonable person would do so/ also for police officers who need
to act quickly

Exceptions to RIL*

Expert witness -a witness qualified by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or

education to provide a scientific, technical, or other specialized opinion about the
evidence or a fact issue

Expressed Consent-consent that is clearly and unmistakably stated

False imprisonment-a restraint of a person in a bounded area w/out justification or


Family immunity-any exemption from a duty, liability, or service of process;/the

immunity of one spouse form a tort action by the other spouse for personal injury/
children cannot sue their parents and parents cannot sue their children for tort claims

Fireman’s rule-
Governmental Immunity-any exemption from a duty, liability, or service of
process/congressional, diplomatic, executive, judicial (judge), legislative
Gross Negligence-a lack of slight diligence or care, a conscious, voluntary act or
omission in reckless disregard of a legal duty and of the consequences to another party

Guest Statute -a law that bars a nonpaying passenger in a noncommercial vehicle from
suing the host-driver for damages resulting from the driver’s ordinary negligence

Immunities -any exemption from a duty, liability, or service of process

Implied consent-consent inferred from one’s conduct rather than from one’s direct

Informed consent-a person’s agreement to allow something to happen, made with full
knowledge of the risks involved and the alternatives

Innkeepers Rule-

Insanity -any mental disorder severe enough that it prevents a person from having legal
capacity and excuses the person form criminal or civil responsibility/it is a legal standard,
not a medical standard

Intent-the state of mind accompanying an act. While motive is the inducement to do

some act, intent is the mental resolution or determination to do it

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Harm-the tort of intentionally or recklessly causing

another person severe emotional distress through one’s extreme or outrageous acts

Intervening cause-an event that comes between the initial event in a sequence and the
end result, thereby altering the natural course of events that might have connected a
wrongful act to an injury

Invitee-a person who has an express or implied invitation to enter or use another’s
premises, such as a business visitor or a member of the public to whom the premises are
held open

Land owner’s liability-

-off property

-on property

Last clear chance-the rule that a plaintiff who was contributorily negligent may
nonetheless recover from the defendant if the defendant had the last opportunity to
prevent the harm but failed to use reasonable care to do so
Latent defect-concealed imperfection or shortcoming especially in a part that is essential
to the operation or safety of a product

License-a revocable permission to commit some act that would otherwise be unlawful/
the certificate or document evidencing permission to commit some act

Licensee-one to whom a license is granted

Limited Duty-

Loss of chance-a rule in some states providing a claim against a doctor who has engaged
in medical malpractice that, although it does not result in a particular injury, decreases or
eliminates the chance of surviving or recovering from the preexisting condition for which
the doctor was consulted

Malpractice-an instance of negligence or incompetence on the part of a professional

Mental Illness-a disorder in thought or mood so substantial that it impairs judgment,

behavior, perceptions of reality, or the ability to cope with the ordinary demands of life

Mental Impairment-the mental fact or state of being damaged, weakened, or diminished

Mistake-an error, misconception, or misunderstanding; an erroneous belief

Mitigation-to make less severe or intense

Multiple causes-several causes that produces an event or injury

Negligence Per Se: Common Sense-

Negligence Per Se: Statute

Necessity -Indispensable things of any kind

Physical impairment-the physical fact or state of being damaged, weakened, or


Privileges-a special legal right, exemption, or immunity granted to a person or class of

persons; an exception to a duty

Proximate cause-a cause that is legally sufficient to result in liability/ a cause that
directly produces an event and w/out which the event would not have occurred

Reasonable Ordinary Prudent Child-

Reasonable Ordinary Prudent Person

Reasonable Ordinary Prudent Professional

Res Ipsa Locuitor*-the thing speaks for itself. This doctrine gives rise to a rebuttable
presumption of negligence when the instrumentality causing the injury was within the
exclusive control of the defendant, and the injury was one that does not normally occur
unless a person has been negligent

Respondeat Superior-Let the master reply. This doctrine holds the master liable for the
wrongful acts of his servant (or the principal for his agent) in those cases in which the
servant (or agent) was acting within the scope of his authority at the time of the injury

Self Defense-the use of force to protect oneself, one’s family, or one’s property from a
real or threatened attack/ it is justifiable if the person believes the danger of bodily harm
is imminent and that force is necessary to avoid the danger

Shopkeeper’s privilege-

Standard of Care-in the law of negligence, the degree of prudence that a reasonable
person should exercise

Statute of Limitations-a statute establishing a time limit for suing in a civil case, based
on the date when the claim accrued (discovery of injury)

-Discovery rule

Stower’s Doctrine-

Superceding cause-an intervening act that the law considers sufficient to override the
cause for which the original tortfeasor was responsible, thereby exonerating that
tortfeasor from liability

Thin skull-

Transferred intent-the rule that if one person intends to harm a second person but
instead unintentionally harms a third, the first criminal or torious intent toward the second
applies to the third as well

Trespass to Chattel-the act of committing, w/out lawful justification, any act of direct
physical interference with a chattel possessed by another.
Chattel-moveable or transferable property

Trespass to Land-an unlawful act committed against the property of another

Trespasser-one who commits a trespass; one who intentionally and w/out consent or
privilege enters another’s property

Viability-capable of living/especially outside the womb/capable of independent existence

or standing

Vicarious liability- liability that a supervisory party (employer) bears for the actionable
conduct of a subordinate or associate because of the relationship between the two parties

Vis major-a greater or superior force, an irresistible force/ a loss that results immediately
from a natural cause w/out human intervention and that could not have been prevented by
the exercise of prudence, care and diligence

Wrongful birth-a lawsuit brought by parents against a doctor for failing to advise them
prospectively about the risks of their having a child with birth defects

Wrongful life-a lawsuit brought by or on behalf of a child with birth defects, alleging
that but for the doctor-defendant’s negligent advice, the parents would not have
conceived the child, or if they had, they would have aborted the fetus to avoid the pain
and suffering resulting from the child’s congenital defects.