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Last Modified: December 28, 2022


“A wrong-doer; one who commits, or is guilty of, a tort… [and] ordinarily imports an invasion of right to the damage of the party who suffers such invasion” (Black’s Law Dictionary). “A person who commits a tort (civil wrong), either intentionally or through negligence” (Nolo’s Law Dictionary). The plaintiff usually files a lawsuit against this person or organization, known as a defendant once in court.

Example Sentence

Because Dr. Green, the tortfeasor, failed to properly perform the routine surgery on Mallory, he caused Mallory’s premature death.

Case Study

Adam and Luke accidentally crashed into each other on the freeway; they both accused the other of causing the accident and being the tortfeasor. Both hired lawyers to determine the law surrounding their crash’s unique circumstances and to see who lie at fault. If one could find enough evidence on the other, and the court found him more than fifty percent responsible for the crash, then he would need to pay the damages caused by the accident. Obviously, both insurance companies became very interested in this case to avoid paying a huge sum of money for their clients.

Other Important Information

A ruling by the Utah Supreme Court case explains that the tortfeasor “takes a tort victim as he or she finds the victim” (Tingey v. Christensen). This means that if the tortfeasor causes an aggravation of preexisting conditions, the victim can hold her responsible for those aggravations, even if those conditions did not cause pain until the accident. Joint tortfeasors are parties that either commit the wrong together or, if done independently, their acts unite to cause one injury (Black’s Law Dictionary). Further, they “may be held jointly and severally liable for damages, meaning that any of them can be responsible to pay the entire amount, no matter what proportion of responsibility each has” (Nolo’s Law Dictionary). If the tortfeasor dies during the accident, the plaintiff cannot seek punitive damages. In other words, money taken from the tortfeasor to punish and dissuade any future wrongdoing (see In re Estate of Rolando Garza). A tortfeasor does not escape paying for damages if the plaintiff pays for the damages through his or her insurance or in any other way. The tortfeasor, if guilty, must pay for any damages.