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Chapter 5 : Basics of Tort Law
Most of the cases for which a forensic microbiologist or biomedical scientist may be asked to testify or consult involve tort law. While the details of tort law are in the province of the attorney, it may useful for the forensic scientist to have some understanding of the principles involved. Tort law is a body of law separate from contract law. The injured party or plaintiff may receive an award of money damages from the defendant (party causing the injury). Tort law is divided into three parts: intentional torts, negligence, and strict liability. Negligence implies carelessness on the part of the defendant. The theory of negligence revolves around four factors: a duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff, a breach or violation of that duty by the defendant, proximate cause, and injury or damage to the plaintiff. Strict liability is where there is neither the intent to cause harm nor carelessness but where nevertheless damage has been done and the actor is liable. In tort law, as in other types of civil law, remedies may be money or a mandate from the court.