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  • Angela Desjardins

Different types of Torts in Ontario


Tort law can be incredibly complex. Even if you have a working understanding of the concept, there are many different types beyond what you might have learned in law school. This article will explore the different types of torts by discussing the four major categories: intentional, negligence, strict liability, and economic torts.

What is a tort?

A tort is a civil wrong, usually committed by an individual or business. It can be a breach of duty. For example, if an apartment building owner fails to ensure adequate fire safety features and someone gets hurt because of this failure, this would be considered a tort. Likewise, it would also be negligence if someone else's negligence injured you while driving their car and you didn't have car insurance that covered you.

  • A tort is a civil wrong.

  • A civil wrong is an act or omission that causes harm. For example, torts can be intentional, such as stealing someone's wallet. Still, they may also be unintentional and result from negligence or recklessness, such as accidentally hitting another person with your car while texting and driving.

  • Torts are not breaches of contract. If you and I sign an agreement to sell me your car for $500 and then you don't follow through with the deal, I have grounds to sue you because you breached our contract by failing to deliver the goods (your car). If I were hit by an automobile driven by someone who was negligent when texting at the wheel, they would not be liable for breach of contract—only for negligence in causing my injuries under tort law.

What is an intentional tort?

Intentional torts are those committed with the intention to cause harm. Intentional torts include assault, battery and defamation.

Because of the high degree of mens rea required (intention), intentional torts are most often committed intentionally or knowingly. Recklessness is a lesser form of fault compared to intentionality and knowledge. However, it will still suffice for an intentional tort in most cases. For example, if a person uses an offensive weapon against another person, knowing that said weapon may cause serious bodily injury or death, then they have committed assault with a dangerous weapon if it does, in fact, result in serious injury or death as opposed to minor scratches on the victim's arm. Some courts have held that reckless behaviour can also be enough for finding liability against a defendant where no actual intent exists.

Negligence Torts

Negligence torts are torts caused by the failure to exercise due care. They can be divided into two categories: ordinary negligence and gross negligence. To prove negligence, you must show that the defendant's conduct fell below a standard of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in their situation. And that this conduct caused your injury. If your injury was not reasonably foreseeable, then it is not caused by negligence.

Ordinary Negligence

Ordinary negligence occurs when the defendant fails to exercise reasonable care in a way that causes harm to another person or their property.

Gross Negligence

Gross negligence involves more than just an act of poor judgment; it shows reckless disregard for others' safety or rights. For example, someone commits gross negligence when they knowingly do something highly dangerous without regard for whether anyone will get hurt. And they should have known better!

What is Strict Liability?

Strict liability is a type of tort that holds a person responsible for their actions, regardless of intent or negligence. It is often associated with product liability, but it can also apply to the acts of individuals and businesses. For example, suppose you are walking down the street over an uneven sidewalk and trip. Unfortunately, there is no warning sign to warn you. In that case, you have grounds for a strict liability tort claim against the city or town government that owns and maintains the sidewalk.

Strict liability differs from negligence in that it does not require proof of any wrongdoing on the part of someone else (e.g., breaking something while working at your job). While there is no strict liability law in Canada like what exists in Ontario, provinces such as Alberta do recognize this type of personal injury and other types related to products sold by retailers.

What are Economic torts?

An economic tort is a type of tort concerned with financial loss. It's different from physical torts, but it also differs from intentional torts.

Economic torts are also known as "trespass to goods." They occur when one person damages or interferes with another person's property in a way that causes economic loss. For example, if you accidentally spill coffee on your laptop and put a dent in the screen (but don't break it), you've caused an economic injury because you've damaged your computer and now have to pay someone else to fix the issue.

In conclusion, torts in Canada can be divided into categories based on the type of harm suffered. Each kind of tort is different from the other and comes with its own set of legal consequences. To understand how this works, you need to have a clear idea about what each one entails and its specific requirements for proving liability. It's essential for those who may be affected by these laws and lawyers or paralegals who practice law in areas such as personal injury litigation or civil rights violations.

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