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Tort Law - Immunity

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Certain individuals and entities are granted IMMUNITY from both damage awards and assessments of liability in tort. An immunity is a defense to a legal action where public policy demands special protection for an entity or a class of persons participating in a particular field or activity. Historically, immunity from tort litigation has been granted to government units, public officials, charities, educational institutions, spouses, parents, and children.

Government immunity, also known as SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY, insulates federal, state, and local governments from liability for torts that an employee commits within the scope of his or her official duties. Public policy, as reflected by legislation, common-law precedent, and popular opinion, has required courts to protect the government from unnecessary disruptions that invariably result from civil litigation. Similarly, educational institutions generally have been immunized from tort actions to protect students and faculty from distraction.

In a number of states, tortfeasors have been given immunity from liability if they are related to the victim as husband or wife, or parent or child. These states concluded that family harmony should not be traumatized by the adversarial nature of tort litigation. Charities and other philanthropic organizations have been given qualified immunity from tort liability as well. This immunity is based on the fear that donors would stop giving money to charities if the funds were used to pay tort claims.

Over the last quarter century, nearly every jurisdiction has curtailed tort immunity in some fashion. Several jurisdictions have abolished tort immunity for entire groups and entities. The movement to restrict tort immunity has been based in part on the RULE OF LAW, which requires all persons, organizations, and government officials to be treated equally under the law. Despite the efforts of this movement, tort immunity persists in various forms at the federal, state, and local levels.

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over 7 years ago

My township notified as of today at the reg. monthly meeting that they have received from the township solicitor the Draft ATV/Snowmobile Ordinance.they are telling us that if an accident or death should occure on any of the township property including any and all the roads that they are not responsible and the township can not be sued because they fall under Governmental Immunity. is this true? thank you,

Janie J. White