Major purposes of tort law

A tort is a civil wrong that causes a claimant to suffer loss or harm, resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act. It can include intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, financial losses, injuries, invasion of privacy, and many other things.

The major purposes of tort law include the following:
  1. To provide a peaceful means for adjusting the rights of parties who might otherwise take the law into their own hands;
  2. To deter wrongful conduct;
  3. To encourage socially responsible behavior; and
  4. To restore injured parties to their original condition, insofar as the law can do this, by compensating them for their injury. (William L. Prosser, John W. Wade, Victor E. Schwartz, Cases and Materials on Torts, 1988 Ed., p.1)
In Phoenix Construction, Inc. vs. Intermediate Appellate Court (G.R. No. L-65295, March 10, 1987), the Supreme Court observed that the governing law (Article 2176, Civil Code) seeks to reduce the risks and burden of living in the society and to allocate them among the members of society. The Court said:
"The petitioners urge that the truck driver (and therefore his employer) should be absolved from responsibility for his own prior negligence because the unfortunate plaintiff failed to act with that increased diligence which had become necessary to avoid the peril precisely created by the truck driver's own wrongful act or omission. To accept this proposition is to come too close to wiping out the fundamental principle of law that a man must respond for the forseeable consequences of his own negligent act or omission. Our law on quasi-delicts seeks to reduce the risks and burdens of living in society and to allocate them among the members of society. To accept the petitioners' proposition must tend to weaken the very bonds of society."
The primary aims of tort law are to provide relief to injured parties for harms caused by others, to impose liability on parties responsible for the harm, and to deter others from committing harmful acts. Torts can shift the burden of loss from the injured party to the party who is at fault or better suited to bear the burden of the loss. Typically, a party seeking redress through tort law will ask for damages in the form of monetary compensation. Less common remedies include injunction and restitution.