Consents Law and Legal Definition

Consents in the legal arena are used in a variety of contexts. In the broadest sense, consents are signed documents indicating an official approval of an action or proposed action. For example, some states require a minor to get parental consent before undergoing an abortion.

Another common consent is regulated by state informed health care consent laws, which vary by state. These laws define who will make health care decisions for you, if you are unable to make them for yourself. This law authorizes certain persons to provide consent for minors or persons who are incapacitated and, therefore, unable to make or communicate their own medical decisions. The law establishes a priority list of persons who are authorized to provide informed consent to health care on behalf of a minor or an incapacitated person. If you are an adult, the law usually requires that a doctor determine that you are an incapacitated person before anyone is authorized to consent on your behalf.

Consent to a tort is a defense sometimes raised in civil cases. However, duress will negate the defense of consent. Dean Prosser discusses the defense of consent in the following manner:

"Chief among the other defenses available in a privacy action is that of the plaintiff's consent to the invasion, which will bar his recovery as in the case of any other tort * * *" Prosser, Law of Torts, 3rd Ed. 1964, Sec. 112, page 850.

The Restatement of the Law of Torts also addresses subsequent assent to a tortious act:

"Except in the case of ratification, subsequent assent by the injured person to a tortious act does not of itself terminate a cause of action. There is no principle under which a tort can be condoned; an agreement not to sue is effective only if it has the elements of an enforceable contract. Thus where one assaults another, a statement by the injured person that he forgives the assault does not terminate the cause of action." Restatement of the Law of Torts, Am.Law.Inst., (1939), Section 892, comment c, page 841.