Many civil lawsuits involve torts, but what are they? They are an act that is committed by one party and causes harm to another party; this harm can be in the form of a physical injury, damage to property, or even damage to reputation. Most torts happen because of negligence, which is a careless act done to someone that may cause harm. However, you may be wondering, what is an intentional tort?
Intentional torts carry and element of intent that other torts do not. When it comes to intentional torts, something was done on purpose, whereas with other torts, they do not focus on intent at all. You can discover if a tort was intentional if the mindset of the person committing the tort had malicious intent. Take for example a car accident – it was just that, an accident and nothing further. However, if a person intended to strike your car, then they have committed an intentional tort known as battery. This is all based on mindset.
There is a difference between negligence and intent, and it is a subtle one. If a defendant can prove that he or she did not intend to commit the act that caused harm, then they may be able to avoid liability. When it comes to regular negligence cases, intent is irrelevant and not a valid defense.
Are Intentional Torts Also Crimes?
In many cases, yes, but the difference is subtle. A tort, intentional or not, can result in a civil suit, which is a lawsuit brought by one private citizen against another. Crimes are different, however. Criminal proceedings are brought by the state against a party accused of violating a criminal statute. They are not about damages, they are about protecting the public welfare and punishing the guilty for their transgressions. An example of something that is an intentional tort and a crime at the same time, is battery.
Types of Intentional Torts
- Battery: Battery is when you hit somebody, which can include firing a gun, sending projectiles into someone else’s body, or hitting somebody with a car.
- Assault: An assault is an attempted battery, or threatening injury when no battery takes place.
- False Imprisonment: No one is allowed to restrict another person’s movement against their will, except for in two cases. For instance, police will have an authority to detain people that they suspect of crimes. Shopkeepers can also keep people who they suspect of shoplifting for a reasonable amount of time.
- Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress: To prove this, a plaintiff has to prove that someone else has engaged in extreme or outrageous conduct, with the intent of frightening somebody and causing severe distress or harm.
- Fraud: This is the legal term for lying to someone. Plaintiffs will need to prove that the speaker knew that he was saying something false and that somebody would believe them, and by relying on that information, ended up being harmed.
- Defamation: This is when somebody says something false about someone else, and the lie causes harm.
- Conversion: This is when someone takes someone else’s property and converts it to their own. This is also known as stealing.
As with anything, if you believe that you have a case that revolves around intention torts, you should seek the help of an attorney. An experienced attorney will be able to review your potential claim. Call WTW today to speak to an attorney that you can trust!