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Tort Law

Tort law is an area of law which protects you from harm caused by a breach of duty by another person. Compared to criminal law, in tort law a ‘tort’ more specifically refers to a ‘civil wrong’. This is an act which has caused harm to another, however, it is not considered a crime punishable by law.

Torts are generally associated with the act of suing another person for the harm done. This means that the perpetrating party is liable for the damage done. The payment given to the affected party is known as ‘damages’, which is a sum of money to compensate for the loss a breach of duty has caused. The purpose of tort law is to place both parties in their position before the loss. In effect, this deters wrongful behaviour and ensures wrongdoers pay for the damage they cause to victims.

Torts are categorised as the following:

  • Intentional torts
  • Property torts
  • Dignitary torts
  • Economic torts
  • Nuisance
  • Negligence
  • Duty to visitors
  • Strict liability torts

Legislation

A majority of tort law is found in ‘common law’, which are legal principles established through cases. As such, tort law can be very complex and will vary according to the circumstances of a case.

To a lesser extent, tort law can also be found in legislation which varies between States and Territories. The Civil Liability Act 2002 (NSW) is the relevant legislation used by Tort Lawyers in NSW, and the Wrongs Act 1958 (Vic) for Victoria.

What is a Tort Lawyer?

A tort lawyer is a lawyer that specialises in Tort Law. They deal with matters such as negligence, trespass, defamation and personal injury. A tort lawyer will represent a client in a tort dispute. Most tort disputes are resolved outside court through negotiation and alternative dispute resolution. These methods are often used by tort lawyers to reduce costs and resolve matters in a timely manner.

However, some disputes may escalate to court. If this is the case, tort lawyers will represent you in court and may also instruct barristers to argue your case. Tort cases can be very complex and time consuming, as such tort lawyers are often skilled in areas of negotiation and litigation.

Why do I need an Tort Lawyer?

It is not uncommon for individuals to find themselves in a situation where harm was caused by an accident beyond their control. Some common examples are slip and falls, falling objects, car accidents, and medical malpractice. In some circumstances, the personal injuries caused by these accidents can be a matter of tort law. As such, tort lawyers can provide advice on whether a tort action is possible and what options are available.

Small businesses can also suffer losses from tortious acts. A common example is defamation, which involves the loss of reputation of an affected party. Often the repercussions of defamation result in economic loss, and loss of reputation can be costly for businesses starting out. As such, tort lawyers can advise and provide the necessary action needed to seek compensation from economic loss. This will provide better security and peace of mind for small businesses.

What will a Tort Lawyer provide?

Tort lawyers negotiate monetary compensation in a tort dispute. They will be able to advise you on your available options and represent you in the case that a tort dispute escalates to court. However, tort lawyers ultimately want to resolve tort disputes outside of courts and are skilled negotiators. As such, they can discuss negotiation options and secure a remedy that suits your case outside of court. Additionally, any documentation, subpoenas and letters to the other party will be provided by your lawyer.

How much will an Tort Lawyer charge?

Tort Lawyers generally provide solutions on an hourly basis and costs will increase if the case needs to be presented in court. Tort lawyers do try to resolve most matters through negotiation and alternative dispute resolution, this process is cheaper and most tort cases are resolved through these methods.

When you submit a quote through LawPath, we’ll source you quotes from a range of expert tort lawyers. All of our lawyers work on a fixed-priced basis, meaning you always know how much the process will cost.

Hourly rates and Court fees

The cost of a Tort Lawyer will vary based on the scope of the work. Small issues likely to be addressed quickly will cost less. For matters that will need to go to the relevant Court or Tribunal, there may be additional fees involved, particularly as this work takes time. These types of matters may also involve obtaining documents and negotiating with the other party.

What can an Tort Lawyer legally charge?

Legal costs can rise very quickly, especially in litigation. However, this is sometimes hard to avoid when work is being done by a lawyer on an hourly basis. Where fixed-fees are not offered by the lawyer, you should expect to be invoiced on a monthly basis with a time period within which you are required to make payment. Lawyers are required to adhere to the rules outlined in the relevant acts. For example, in NSW and Victoria, this is the Legal Profession Uniform Law 2014. Lawyers who do not comply with these rules can face disciplinary action from the law society of their State.

Lawyers are required to provide to their clients a document called a ‘costs disclosure’ if your costs will be higher than $750.00. This document will outline how costs will be calculated in relation to your case. Also be mindful that costs are divided into ‘professional costs’ and ‘disbursements’, and you will be expected to pay for both. Professional costs are the costs of the actual work done by the lawyer, whilst disbursements cover incidentals such as court filing fees, telephone calls, photocopying charges – amongst other things.

What if I don’t agree with the costs?

You have the right to request an itemised bill that will outline how much time was spent on each task in relation to your matter, and how this adds up to the fee you’re requested to pay. If you wish to dispute the cost, you can make a complaint to the The Office of the Legal Services Commissioner (OLSC) and they will investigate the matter and may allocate a costs assessor. You can also take further legal action in the Courts if you feel you have been unfairly charged.

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