Injury law is categorized within the legal field known as tort law, which is one of the kinds of civil law (with other categories being those devoted to subjects such as property ownership and drawing up contracts). Torts do not refer to criminal offenses, though these may also be contained in the act addressed through the civil means of the lawsuit.
For this reason, the burden of proof on the plaintiff in a personal injury tort case, such as one attempting to establish the occurrence of malpractice, may be different than it would be in a criminal court case, even one directed toward the same wrongful act. By itself, a personal injury tort cannot lead to the defendant being jailed or in some other way being punished with governmental infringements on his or her liberty.
A malpractice lawsuit, for instance, would strive to show that the physician or some other kind of medical caregiver possessed the responsibility for the medical injury which was suffered, a responsibility called for the specific purposes of the tort "liability."
A defendant found to be liable by a personal injury lawsuit can thus be required to give some kind of restitution, usually in the form of a monetary settlement, to the plaintiff. People who decide to claim that malpractice has occurred through a medical injury tort would thus be able to make that claim without proving that a criminal act has taken place. Instead, they would establish the responsibility of the person who has committed malpractice to pay for their resultant medical bills and other financial burdens imposed by the medical injury.
In this sense, torts offer a useful service to people who have been injured through the malpractice or some other form of irresponsibility committed by others by concentrating on the well-being of the victim rather than the punishment of the perpetrator. Personal injury torts have thereby become quite widespread and popular in the modern-day American legal system to address problems ranging from malpractice to overly hot coffee being served at fast-food restaurants.
Personal injury torts can be filed against either intentional or negligent actions. A medical injury, for instance, could be shown to have been the result of negligence if the plaintiff and his or her legal representation can show a general pattern or a specific instance of carelessness on the part of the administering physician and the medical facility. Depending on whether intentional or negligent liability is claimed through the personal injury tort, the plaintiff's personal injury attorney can be faced with a differing degree of the burden of proof and different specific things to prove about the case.
A case of negligence leading to personal injury, to this end, must show that the defendant had a responsibility to care for the safety of others, failed to honor this responsibility, and consequently caused the plaintiff to suffer the injury. In this way, an administering physician can possess liability for any medical injury which occurs. Intentional personal injury torts involve an excessive will to cause injury.