In order to determine if breach of contract is a tort, we must first define both concepts and understand what they mean. This article analyzes whether a breach of contract is a tort or not and explains what both concepts mean.
A contract is a legally binding agreement between two or more parties. This instrument obligates the parties to perform or not perform specific acts. In order for the contract to be enforceable, each party must exchange something in value, often called “consideration”. If one of the parties breaches their obligation to perform under the contract, the United States contract law aims to protect the non-breaching party by allowing them to ask for damages for their injury. Normally, damages for breach of contract are awarded to the non-breaching party with the intent to compensate them for the losses suffered as a result of the breach of contract caused by the other party. For example, if Alice and John sign a contract and John fails to perform his contractual obligations, then Alice will have a legal cause of action to ask John for damages in order to compensate her for the injuries caused by him.
Similar to contract law, tort law is another body of law that falls within the broader civil law umbrella. This area of law covers wrongs where a person’s behavior, actions or non-actions caused injuries, suffering, economic loss, or harm to another person. There is no need for a contract between the two parties. Tort law is based on the premise that people should be liable for their actions or non-actions. Tort law includes a diverse type of personal injury claims. However, similar to contract law, tort law seeks to compensate the injured party for their suffering. However, in the case of intentional torts (where the party intended to commit the injuries) tort law seeks to not only compensate the injured party but award additional damages in the form of punitive damages in order to punish the party who caused the injury for their wrongdoing and deter future wrongdoing.
Therefore, both contract law and tort law are branches of civil law in which a civil wrong is committed by a person, whether an individual or entity, and that wrong results in an injury to someone else. Additionally, the injured party is monetary compensated for the injury.
Is Breach of Contract a Tort?
Even if there are some similarities between the two, a breach of contract is not a tort and there are many differences between these two legal concepts. One major distinction between contract law and tort law lies in the issue of consent and agreement. As noted above, in tort law there is no agreement or contract between the parties. Moreover, in a tort case there is a duty that is violated, and this duty is imposed by law and not by the parties themselves. In contract law, the duty that is breached is a duty established by the parties in their agreement.
In conclusion, breach of contract is not a tort. Both tort law and contract law are branches of civil law that cover many different types of injuries and violations. For this reason, both areas of law can be very complicated. If you are in a situation where you are dealing with both tort law and contract law, it is in your best interest to consult with a qualified attorney. Contact us or schedule a consultation.
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