A tort is a civil wrong and the Law of Torts is the branch of law which deals with compensation for loss or damage which a person has unfairly suffered. It is a branch of civil law, as opposed to criminal law.
Damage may be caused to people in many ways, be it personal injury, or damage to property, and the person harmed is entitled to receive compensation from the person who caused the damage.
This branch of the law includes, amongst other things, work-related, traffic or other accidents, assault, malpractice, defamation and nuisance.
Another area involving tort law is injustice, which includes kidnapping, assault, trespass, damage caused by animals, embezzlement, individual or public nuisance, deceit, breach of contract, and more.
What laws are relating to torts?
The laws under which tort are committed are numerous: the law on compensation for road and other accidents, the law on liability for defective products, the law on defamation, prevention of nuisance, the law against civil offence, the law on consumer protection, the law against sexual harassment, the law of protection of privacy, the law against discrimination in services, goods and entry in public and entertainment places, and more.
What to do to receive a compensation?
For that compensation to be paid the level of responsibility of the person who caused the damage has to be proved, and the amount of compensation due to the injured party must be decided. Beyond the direct financial compensation for damages the law also takes into account other aspects such as past and future medical expenses, past and future loss of income, pain and suffering, and a reduced life expectancy.
- Responsibility of authorities
In the past authorities enjoyed immunity in respect of their operations when damage was caused to a person, the law has thankfully changed and now the authorities and officials are responsible for any damage that they cause to an individual. For example, a person who falls into a pit on a road where the authorities are doing work may claim compensation from those same authorities. It is the same for state employees and public institutions, with some restrictions in specific cases.
- Bituah Leumi (Social Security)
The Bituah Leumi, which is the social security in other countries, is the one that provides financial protection to the Israeli citizens at various levels depending on the cases. Such aid is given against poverty, unemployment, pensions, retirement, income support, family tragedies, disability, natural disasters, damage due to war or acts of terrorism and days leave due to pregnancy or childbirth. That is why the Bituah Leumi is included in torts.
- Allowances for injuries
It is the Bituah Leumi which pays allowances to its members in case they cannot work at all due to a work accident or occupational disease. This allowance is paid only if the person provides all the medical certificates indicating that he is unable to work in his trade or in any other employment that would suit him.
- Disability levels
It is a medical committee of the Bituah Leumi which determines the levels of disabilities. Levels are determined by percentage of disability under the Bituah Leumi regulations. The medical committee consists of one or two specialists in various medical branches, these doctors are not employees of the Bituah Leumi and are paid by the Minister of Social Affairs for their work in the medical committee. If a disabled person suffers from multiple disabilities, he will be examined by a medical consultant in addition to the medical committee and its opinion will be submitted to the medical committee for it to be able to determine the degree of disability.
- Sexual harassment
Sexual harassment includes a number of actions prohibited by law, such as indecent assault, unwanted friction or touching, unwanted sexual activity, cornering someone in an unwanted situation, phone calls or letters of sexual nature, stereotyped and sexist jokes, to leer, sexual extortion of funds, distribution of photos or videos with sexual content, humiliating or degrading references related to the sex of a person and more. All of these acts include random as well as systematic harassment and are punished by law.
- Medical Commission
The role of the medical commission of the Bituah Leumi is to organize the complainants and to determine the percentage of disability of victims of road accidents, work accidents or serious illnesses who have difficulty with their daily functioning and possibly cannot longer function on their own. This commission is composed of doctors not related to the Bituah Leumi and specialized in various fields, a qualified doctor of the Bituah Leumi and a secretary whose job is to protect the rights of the disabled people and write the reports of the medical commission.
The damage of defamation may concern a person, a group of persons, a public or an organization, a deceased person and so on. This includes any defamation affecting a person’s dignity or reputation, spreading lies or deliberately inaccurate stories, gossip, incitement to defamation, allusions to bad things, action or secrets of a person, a group of people or an organization etc. In Israel, as in many other countries, defamation is prohibited by law.
- Occupational disease
An occupational disease is a disease contacted by a worker during or because of his work. This is not a work accident because usually it develops over a long period and not suddenly. There are a number of occupational diseases, here are a few: poisoning, skin diseases, tuberculosis and other communicable diseases, tetanus, certain cancers, disfigured face or body, diseases due to radiation, hearing impairments, bursitis of the elbow or knee, joint diseases, diseases of tendons, muscles, vessels, blood, nerves and so on.
Microtrauma is a tiny repeated injury during labor for years to a specific organ, which could cause great long term damage. For example, an employee doing the same monotonous and repetitive movement working with his hand every day for years and having it damaged because of this.
- Physical injury
Physical injuries are injuries of any kind caused by a traffic or work accident, medical negligence or accidents due to or during other events. Of course in order to receive compensation for physical injury the victim must obtain all the needed medical certificates as well as evidence of the accident or incident that caused the injury in question. Such injury may have many consequences such as reduced quality of life, difficulties in daily life, financial loss or work loss.
- Psychological injury
Psychological injury can result from a number of factors such as accidents of all kinds, natural or unnatural disasters, wars or terrorist acts, medical mistakes and so on. The most striking example in this area, especially in Israel where there are so many wars, terrorist acts and military operations, is the one of the soldiers with PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder), a posttraumatic disease that causes them emotional damage and can last a lifetime.
- Loss of revenue
The loss of income is a situation in which a person loses the ability to work and earn a living, permanently or temporarily, as the result of an accident at work or otherwise, or a disease. Most Israeli citizens are insured against loss of work by the Bituah Leumi, but on top of that a lot of them also take additional private insurances just in case they need it. There are several levels of incapacity from total, when a person can no longer work at all, to partial when he cannot work in his profession or following his education, or when his earning capacity or his wages fell significantly.
- Injured pedestrians
Pedestrians, when they are injured by any transport vehicle, car, bus, motorcycle or other, have rights too. The percentage of pedestrian casualties in traffic accidents is the highest compared to all traffic accidents and this trend continues to climb. Usually pedestrian injuries are caused by the vehicle’s front and their severity depends as much on the vehicle speed as on the height and size of the victim.
- Violation of privacy
The violation of privacy includes several specific situations defined by law. The right to privacy includes everything that touches a person’s body and environment, character and image, any information about his private life, his conversations and other means of communications with others, the private space of his house, any publications giving a misconception of that person, any public disclosure of embarrassing or secret information, using this person for profit and more. When any one of these factors is published, copied or used in any way whatsoever it is considered a clear violation of privacy and against the law.
Every human being can make a mistake in his profession, but when it is due to a negligence it is not a mistake anymore, it is professional misconduct, a malpractice. In fact, malpractice is by default an act, an omission or a failure which is a deviation from accepted professional standards, which should not happen with a professional and reasonable person, and which results to damage to the person receiving the service. This happens when a professional does not pay attention, is not careful or unprofessional, takes too much risks or does not use all his expertise. This can happen in all professional areas such as lawyers, engineers, accountants and others.
- Medical malpractice
Medical malpractice is when a doctor or medical service is neglecting or fails to take reasonable care, causing damage to a patient. As an example take medication or surgery: when a doctor gives a patient the wrong medication or one which does not fit the patient’s medical condition, or when a surgeon does not cut or cut more than he should have during an operation. By law, malpractice, medical and other, happens when a person does something that a normal, intelligent and sensitive person would not have done under similar circumstances, or the other way, when a person does not do something that a normal, intelligent and sensitive person would have done under the same circumstances. The difference between negligence and error is very small and this is why every complaint is carefully and thoroughly examined before a verdict is pronounced.