Civil Law -



Civil Law -
Chapters 13 & 14
Civil law:
 Private disputes between individuals or parties
 Do not involve or affect other members of society as in
criminal law.
Types of Civil Cases
 Contract
 Divorces
 Custody
 Contested wills and estates
 Personal injury
Parts of civil law:
 Tort: An act of the legislature declaring, commanding, or
prohibiting something; a particular law enacted and
established by the will of the legislative department of
 Contracts: An agreement between two or more persons
which creates an obligation to do or not to do a
particular thing
 Negligence: The omission to do something which a
reasonable person, guided by those ordinary
considerations which regulate human affairs would do,
or the doing of something which a reasonable and
prudent person would not do
 the act of omission (failure to do something) or the
act of commission (doing something you should not)
that causes harm.
 there is no underlying agreement that establishes the
rights and responsibilities between two parties.
 In torts, the parties involved are strangers according to
the law. The only reason they are brought together is
the misfortune which resulted in the tort action.
Examples of Torts
 Susan is struck by a reckless driver and suffers a loss of
income because she can not attend work due to
 The city fails to care properly for a public swing set and
a child is injured as a result.
 An agreement between two people, usually in a written
 Formal agreements that impose rights and responsibilities
on the parties involved which are enforceable by law.
A contract has distinct parts:
 an offer and acceptance
 consideration
 capacity
 consent and
 lawful purpose.
Examples of Contracts
 Jordan is hired by a grocery store to stock shelves for
$8.00/hour. He does so, but the store refuses to pay
Jordan for the work he provided.
 Devon buys a stereo, agreeing to pay for it in 12 equal
monthly payments. He makes the first three, but then
fails to make the remaining monthly payments
 Occurs when someone acts carelessly, or fails to act at
all, resulting in injury or loss to another person.
Negligence has three characteristics:
 the action is unintentional
 it is unplanned
 an injury results
There are three stages to prove Negligence:
Stage One: Duty of Care
 To act in a certain way or to not act carelessly.
 the duty that motorists owe to other motorists and
 the care that doctors must give to their patients
 the supervision that teachers must give to their
 the care that home owners must give to their visitors
Stage Two: Standard of Care
 The degree of caution or level of conduct expected of a
reasonable person.
A reasonable person knows that driving 120 km/hour on
an icy road could cause an accident.
Stage Two: Standard of Care
The standard of care can be considered differently based
on the following criteria.
 Professional Liability
 Medical Negligence
 Children
 Parental Responsibility
 Rescuers
Professional Liability
 Individuals with special skills, expertise, and training,
have a high standard of care than the reasonable
 Engineers, lawyers, etc.
 Specialized standard of care: degree of caution of level
of conduct considered necessary by a reasonable
person with specialized training.
Medical Negligence
 Doctor’s have a duty to explain medical procedures
and any risks associated, side effects, etc.
 If the doctor fails to share any of this information they
have failed to provide their duty of care.
Parental Responsibility
 Parents are not automatically liable for damages
caused by their children, however a lawyer could argue
that parents failed to train their child or supervise
their activities.
 If children are injured as a result of their parents
negligence, they can sue their parents.
 The standard of care of a rescuer in an emergency is
quite low.
 You do not, under the law, have a duty of care to help
Stage Three: Causation
 If the first two stages have been proven then the
plaintiff must prove that the actions of the defendant
actually caused the injuries to the plaintiff.
 Two factors must be considered:
 Cause-in-Fact
 Remoteness of Danger
 “but for” test.
 If an injury would not have happened
the defendant’s actions, then those actions
are a cause-in-fact of the injury.
Cause-in-Fact Examples
 If a teacher took kids on school trip boating and failed
to supply life jackets and a student drowned.
 If the student was pushed overboard and drowned
after being hit by the boat…
 “But for” not having a life jacket, the student would
not have drowned. However, “but for” being pushed in,
she would not have drowned. She might have been
saved “but for’ the boat driver who hit her, causing her
to lose consciousness.
 In this case the fault would be divided among a
number of wrongdoers…Apportionment.
Remoteness of Danger
 Harm that could not have been foreseen by the
defendant due to the lack of a close connection
between the wrong and the injury.
Intervening Act:
 an unforeseeable event that interrupts the chain of
events started by the defendant:
 In the case of the boater hitting the student should the
teacher have foreseen that such a thing could happen?
It could be argued that the boat driver was an
intervening act, and only the boat driver should be
liable for the accident.
 Product Liability
 Occupiers Liability
 Vicarious Liability
 Automobile Negligence
 Strict Liability
Product Liability
Occupiers Liability
 The duty of those who occupy a property to maintain
their property so that no one entering the premises is
 Includes renters.
 No standard of care is owed to trespassers, however
occupiers cannot purposely injure someone who is
Vicarious Liability
 In some circumstances, responsibility lies not only
with the person undertaking (or failing to undertake)
an action, but also with an individual responsible for
the actions of another.
 a vehicle owner for the vehicle even when the owner is
not the operator,
 a parent who is responsible for the actions of a child
 an employer responsible for an employee.
Strict Liability
 people will be held responsible for damage even though
they did not act negligently or intend to cause any loss or
 may apply to people who keep wild animals, such as tigers
or snakes.
 Even if cages or fencing may be in place, the keeper of a
harmful animal would be held legally responsible in the
event of harm caused by their escape.
 In the storage of dangerous chemicals on private property.
If damages occur, the property owner could be held strictly
liable and would have to pay for the harm done, even if not
directly negligent.
Burden of Proof
 The burden of proof in civil cases is on the balance of
probabilities which means that it is more probable
that one side is correct. The judge or jury listens to
both sides then they weigh the evidence and make a
 Contributory Negligence: negligence acts by the plaintiff helped
to cause their injuries.(Stopping in the middle of the road).
Voluntary Assumption of Risk: the plaintiff agreed accept the
risk normally associate with the activity. (Athlete competing in
physical sports, i.e. hockey or football).
Inevitable Accident: claims the accident was unavoidable due to
an uncontrollable event. (Bee flies into your car and stings you so
you crash).
Act of God: claims an accident was caused by an extraordinary,
unexpected natural event. (violent wind storms).
Explanation: claims the accident occurred for a valid reason even
though the defendant took every precaution. (Slowed down in
icy conditions, but still crashed).
Civil Court
 A civil case is started by one party filing a claim in the
court against the other party and asking the court to
decide the outcome.
 This case would read differently from a criminal one in
that it would be the Plaintiff (Jones) versus the
Defendant (Smith). The plaintiff is the person starting
the action or the one suing. The defendant is the
person who allegedly caused the problem.
 Civil cases with a monetary claim of $25,000 or less are
heard in Small Claims Court.
 Cases with a claim of over $25,000 are heard in the
Supreme Court. The majority of civil cases are settled
out of court.
Judge or Jury?
 A civil case can be tried by judge or jury.
 A civil jury has eight members. The decision of this
jury does not have to be unanimous, as long as 75% or
6 out of 8 jurors agree after at least three hours of
deliberation. The penalties are usually monetary in the
form of a damage award.
Children & Civil Law
 Person’s under the age of majority are known as
 Minors can not sue or be sued under their own name.
 Next Friend: adult who represents a child who initiates
a civil suit.
 Guardian ad litem: adult appointed by the court to act
on behalf of a minor who is BEING sued.
Children & Standard of Care
 The court places a different standard of care on
children as they may not have the experience and
wisdom to understand how their actions could cause
 HOWEVER, if a child performs an adult activity such
as driving a car they are held to the same standard of
care as an adult.
Parental Responsibility
 Parents are NOT automatically liable for damages
caused by their child.
 They can be liable for negligence if they fail to train
their children or supervise them.
 Manitoba Parental Responsibility Act: a claimant can
obtain up to $7500 from the parents of a child who
commits a tort.
 If a child is harmed due to the negligence of their
parent, the child can sue for damages.
Children who Trespass
 Law acknowledges that children are attracted to sites
such as pools, or playgrounds.
 Any item or site that might entice children is known as
an allurement.
 Occupiers must take reasonable precautions to protect
children from being lured onto their property, i.e.
putting a fence around your swimming pool.
Discussion Groups:
Group 1:
 Parents should be held responsible for their children's
Group 2:
 What should be the age that are parents no longer
responsible to provide consent for medical treatment
for their children?
Group 3:
 What is considered reasonable discipline for a child?
Share your thoughts…
In a one page reflection, respond to one of the following
1. Parents should be held responsible for their children's
actions. (Argue: True or False? Why?)
At what age should a person NOT require parental
consent for medical treatment for their children?
(Provide an age and your reason).
What is considered reasonable discipline for a child?
(Explain using references to different circumstances).

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