Tort law covers wrong doings that are civil in nature. Tort cases differ from criminal cases in that tort cases involved two private parties and criminal cases involve the State bringing an individual or individuals to trial. Malpractice is negligence by a professional, such as a doctor. Torts generally occur as the result of negligence by an individual. Malpractice is the result of negligent behavior by a professional person.
Though torts are wrongs committed by one party against another, several different factors must be considered before liability can be determined. For an example, suppose a group of people are playing baseball and a passer by is struck by a ball. The person who threw the ball could be held liable for medical costs, time lost from work, pain and suffering. In determining the liability of the pitcher, the court would have to examine the circumstances surrounding the accident. Most important, did the pitcher exercise the same standard of care that an average person would show given the same circumstances. If the ball were thrown at an individual intentionally, the pitcher could be found guilty of intentional Battery. If so, the act might also be considered criminal, in which case the State might bring charges of its own. To win the case, the injured party must prove to the court that the pitcher was not careful and therefore, failed in their duty to prevent the ball from hitting a bystander.
Malpractice is a specific type of tort that involves professional people. In malpractice, the injured party is required to prove that the actions of the professional were not in keeping with generally accepted practices. The failure to act within acceptable standards must have caused injury to the party that could have been avoided had standard procedures been observed. Subordinates of the professional can also be held responsible for injuries caused by malpractice. The type of malpractice most familiar to individuals is medical malpractice but other professionals can be charged with malpractice including attorneys and recently, accountants. Legal malpractice results when the actions of an attorney cause a client damage. This can result from failing to file a document on time, missing a deadline that causes a client to lose their cause of action.