I won’t forget the first day of law school. Honestly not much has stuck with me from most of my classes, but on my first day, a professor pointed out everything that is, or could be, a tort. Walking across the street? That can be a tort. Driving a car? Tort. Entering a store, working a construction site, eating food? All of these case be torts. Taking that class in law school made me paranoid and changed the way I looked at the world.
The reason for that paranoia is because a tort can be defined (very informally) as all the crazy/bad stuff that you can possibly imagine happening to someone.
The formal definition of a tort is a civil wrong for which a remedy may be obtained, usually in the form of damages. A civil wrong is a wrong committed against an individual, whereas a crime is a wrong committed against the state. In plain English this typically means bringing a personal injury lawsuit.
There are four elements to every tort case: duty, breach of duty, causation and injury. In order to have a strong tort lawsuit, there must have been a breach of duty made by the defendant against the plaintiff, which resulted in an injury.
The law of tort protects the rights and freedoms of individuals, as well as their property and reputations. The basic principles of tort law are similar across all states. However, the exact law/rules are determined in each state.
If a plaintiff wins a tort case, the remedies should place him/her (the injured party) in the position he/she was in prior to the tort. Punitive damages are also a possibility to punish extremely reckless or malicious behavior. Basically this means that you should expect to be compensated for your loss. If it’s a car accident that would mean payment for medical bills as well as pain and suffering.
It is very important to hire an experienced attorney who knows the ins and outs of tort law and has demonstrated success in making a great recovery for clients who have similar cases to you. In other words, you don’t just want to hire “the best tort lawyer in Illinois” but instead the best one for what you are dealing with.
Cost wise, a tort lawyer should work on a contingency basis, meaning you don’t pay them a dime out of pocket. They only get compensated if they help you win your case. Some attorneys will seek a fee as high as 40% of the damages they recover. We generally tell people to avoid those lawyers and work with ones who have a fee of 33% which is more typical. Of course since attorneys only get paid if they win, they will want to get involved in a case where you are likely to make a recovery that is worth their while.
If you have any questions about Illinois tort law or would like to speak with an experienced lawyer for free, you can call us any time at 312-346-5320.