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What is a Tort Case and What does it involve in New York?

In the state of New York, tort cases refer to every claim filed in the Court of Claims and small claims court, asides contractual disputes. Typically, the plaintiff files a tort case to seek compensatory damages due to the wrongful acts of another individual, joint tortfeasors, companies, family members, or government agencies. The Clerk of Courts creates, maintains, and disseminates tort case records in the county where the case was filed. Likewise, requesters may obtain tort case records through third-party service providers such as

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

What is New York Tort Law?

New York tort law is a set of rules that enforce judicial filing, proceedings, and compensations related to personal injuries, property violations, or deprivation of rights, etc., caused by one party to another party, under the New York Civil Practice Code.

What Kinds of Cases are Covered by Tort Law in New York?

The New York tort law covers the following causes of action:

  • Business torts: This includes injuries caused to a business due to accountant malpractice, computer malpractice, unfair competition, usury, etc.
  • Defamation torts: This includes injuries caused to an entity and results in damage to reputation due to libel, slander, negligent misrepresentation, negligent spoken words, etc.
  • Fraud torts: This includes injuries caused to an entity due to deceit and fraud.
  • Intellectual property torts: This includes injuries or harm caused to an entity from violation of a creative's common-law copyright, misappropriation of an idea, disclosure of trade secrets, and trafficking counterfeit trade or service marks.
  • Motor vehicle/boat torts: This includes injuries caused to an entity from damage to motor vehicle or due to negligence of the parking facility.
  • Personal injury torts: This includes injuries caused to an entity from animal or pet attack, assault, battery, dental malpractice, intentionally or negligently inflicting emotional distress, negligent exposure to disease or toxic substance, medical malpractice, etc.
  • Personal property torts: This includes injuries caused to an entity resulting from cruelty to animals or pets, hotel liability for personal loss, property disparagement, trespass on personal property, etc.
  • Status torts: This includes injuries caused to an entity due to administrative negligence, aiding and abetting a tort, bystander emotional distress, conspiracy, negligent advice causing damage, negligent entrustment, witness to injury suffering emotional distress, etc.

What are the Differences Between Criminal Law and Tort Law in New York?

Section 106 of the New York Civil Practice Law & Rules differentiates tort law from criminal law. While New York criminal and tort law may share some similarities, both are different. New York Criminal law focuses on establishing the guilt of an offender and the penalties to be imposed on such an offender. In this case, the financial harm or injury to the personal image suffered by the victim is not the issue.

On the other hand, tort law sets the general standards of civil conduct and how an entity will compensate another individual who suffered from their uncivil behavior. Thus, the financial harm or injury to the personal image suffered by the victim as a result of a tort is the only issue.

For example, breaking into a facility is a crime that is punishable under the New York Criminal Code. However, revealing the company's trade secrets in the act is a tort and the company may seek compensation under New York Civil Practice Law & Rules.

What is the Purpose of Tort Law in New York?

The primary purpose of the New York tort law is to make sure that an entity compensates victims who have suffered due to their actions. However, the court will not impose jail time or stiff penalties on the party sued in a tort case. Thus, tort law serves to hold individuals and entities accountable for their uncivil actions.

What is a Tort Claim in New York?

In New York, a tort claim is a document filed in a Court of Claims seeking compensation for wrongdoing, under the Claims Act.

How Do You File a Tort Claim in New York?

To file a tort claim, the petitioner must visit the Clerk's Office at the Court of Claims to file a claim against the State of New York or related agencies. The Court of Claims allows filing by fax and electronic filing of required documents, depending on the nature of the case. Likewise, the petitioner must visit the local small claims court to file a tort claim against another individual or business. The small claims court requires that petitioners follow instructions and submit required documents for filing a tort claim. Then, the petitioner must pay the filing fees and complete the Service of Process, which involves serving the other party with copies of the filed documents.

NB: The state of New York has a statute of limitations on the valid window of filing a tort claim after an injury.

What Does a Tort Claim Contain in New York?

The petitioner must inquire at the Clerk of Court's office about a standard claims document. Nevertheless, a tort claim will typically contain:

  • The petitioner's name and address;
  • The address where the petitioner wants notices to be sent;
  • The date, place, event, and other circumstances surrounding the injury;
  • A general description of the injury;
  • The name of the public employee or employees who caused the injury, if known;
  • The name of the individual or entity that caused the injury;
  • Indicate if the petition is a limited civil claim (i.e. less than $10,000);
  • Indicate the amount sought as of the date of filing (limited civil claims); 
  • The estimated amount of any future injury, damage, or loss;
  • A description of how the petitioner calculated the damages claimed;

NB: The court has jurisdiction over the amount imposed on the liable party in tort claims of more than $25,000.

What Happens after a Tort Claim is Filed in New York?

Generally, after a tort claim is filed, the court may require that the parties involved proceed to mediation to resolve the tort. The period of mediation depends on the circumstances surrounding the case. If mediation fails or is impossible, the court will schedule a hearing date where a judge will rule on the claim.

Why Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer for a Tort Claim?

While the court allows self-representation, having a personal injury lawyer is indispensable. This is because New York tort law has unique rules, provisions, and limitations that make it challenging. Furthermore, New York tort laws are constantly evolving due to tort reforms. Thus, an experienced personal injury lawyer, who is familiar with the nuances of New York tort law, will represent your best interests during the litigation.

How Can I Find a Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me?

The state of New York maintains a public database that can be used to find local attorneys in New York. Likewise, the New York Law Journal maintains a list of law firms that specialize in personal injury on this web page.

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