A tortfeasor is a business or individual accused of a tort, which is an act that harms another entity. Torts are often unintentional, but the tortfeasor can still be held liable for damages.
What is a tortfeasor?
A tortfeasor is a business or individual that has allegedly wronged a third party, either intentionally or through negligence. When a person or company files a lawsuit against a small business, the owner could become a tortfeasor. If the tortfeasor is found guilty in court, he or she can be held liable for damages.
What is a tort?
A tort is a civil wrong that causes a third party financial or personal loss. Torts are common sources of business lawsuits and can be caused by unintentional professional mistakes or oversights.
You could be accused of a tort if your actions:
- Damage a third party’s property
- Cause someone a physical injury
- Constitute slander or libel
- Infringe on a third party’s copyright or intellectual property
- Constitute professional negligence
What happens if a tortfeasor is sued?
If a business or individual files a tort lawsuit against your company, you should seek legal advice right away. Small businesses with insurance should also notify their carrier of pending legal actions.
Depending on your case, your attorney may advise you to settle out of court. Meritless torts are often dismissed during trial, though it’s worth noting that the burden of proof is lower in a tort lawsuit than in a criminal lawsuit. If a judge finds a tortfeasor guilty, he or she must pay the wronged party damages.
Whether a tortfeasor wins or loses a lawsuit, he or she will still be required to pay court costs and attorney's fees in addition to any financial damages awarded by the judge. General liability insurance and errors and omissions insurance help cover the costs of tort lawsuits. Without the proper coverage, your business would have to pay for all lawsuit costs out of pocket.