Civil liability


Civil liability is the obligation of a person who has caused harm to another (either actively or passively) to repair or compensate that damage, usually with compensation.

The obligation to compensate for damage can be by a legal person or by a natural person, and even by several natural persons.

Necessary requirements for civil liability to arise

The requirements for civil liability to exist are:

  • That there is an action or omission.
  • That between the action or omission and the damage produced there is a causal relationship. That is, the damage was caused by that action or omission.
  • That there is fault or negligence.

What is meant by fault or negligence?

Guilt arises from not following the basic rules of conduct of the legal system and not included in the law. For example, if I walk down the street, I know that I don't have to push another person to make them fall. Failure to foresee something that should have been anticipated according to some basic rules of conduct is also guilty.

  • If the basic requirements of conduct are not followed voluntarily, it is called fraud.
  • In negligence there is a lack of will, no harm is wanted. Being negligent means not following due diligence, that is, not having followed the standard of conduct.

Types of civil liability

Attending to different classifications, we can find different types of civil liability:

  1. Contractual civil liability: It is the infringement of a duty established in a contract, that is, a breach of it. Example: A contracts some green fabrics with B, and when the fabrics arrive, they are red. B has breached the contract with A and therefore has generated contractual civil liability and therefore must respond by compensating or repairing that damage caused to A.
  2. Non-contractual civil liability: It is the violation of a duty of conduct that is not included in any contract and has as a result the damage to another person. Example: A lives on the second floor and has a flowerpot on the balcony, B walks down the street and is suddenly hit by a flowerpot. A has caused damage to B with his pot and there is no contract between them, they did not even know each other, but A non-contractual civil liability arises that must compensate or repair the damage caused to B. Another example may be traffic accidents.

There is not only direct civil liability, that is, that caused by one person to another, but there is also indirect civil liability. Indirect civil liability indicates that a person is liable for the damage caused by another, for example, in cases such as:

  • Parental responsibility
  • Guardians' responsibility
  • Responsibility of employers
  • Educators' responsibility
  • Responsibility of animal owners

The damage is the result of the action or omission and what triggers the birth of civil liability, but what types of damage are those that must be compensated or repaired?

  • Property damage: affect property or rights of the injured party
  • Non-property damages:
    • Moral damage: affect feelings
    • Bodily harm: affect the body itself

Circumstances that avoid the birth of civil liability

The circumstances that prevent civil liability from arising, that is to say that it does not exist, are:

  • Legitimate defense: The damage caused by defending against an attack does not generate civil liability.
  • State of necessity: It is the situation where the damage occurs to avoid a greater evil of one's own or of another, in this case no civil liability will arise.
  • Consent of the injured party: It only exonerates civil liability when there has been no non-property damage.
  • Fortuitous case: There is neither fault nor negligence in this case and therefore civil liability does not arise. It is an unforeseen or unavoidable situation.

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