Most personal injury claims are based on the negligent or careless actions of one person or entity. However, in some cases, the defendant means to cause harm to the victim. In these cases, you may have a right to seek a variety of damages against the wrongdoer. These cases fall under the category of intentional torts.
In this article, Allen Law Firm, P.A. explains what intentional torts are and how they may affect your claim.
What Is a Tort?
A tort is a civil wrong that one person commits against another that can be resolved through the court system by having the defendant compensate the victim for the harm they’ve suffered.
Many times, torts are described in relation to negligence, which is the failure to act in a manner in which a reasonable, prudent person would act under similar circumstances.
What Is an Intentional Tort?
An intentional tort is a tort in which the defendant intended to commit the act that caused harm. Many times, intentional torts are also criminal acts, such as:
However, criminal and civil cases are dealt with differently and have distinct consequences. Criminal cases are brought by prosecutors for crimes against society. The goal is to punish the wrongdoer and prevent similar behavior in the future.
Civil cases are brought by individual victims through their personal injury lawyers. The goal of these cases is to make the victim whole, usually by awarding them financial compensation.
What Is the Difference Between an Intentional Tort and Negligence?
Actions brought under the theories of negligence or intentional torts can both result in compensation to the victim. However, the primary way that they differ is that there are different legal elements required to prove that the at-fault party was liable. For instance, a person can be held liable under a negligence claim even though they did not intend to cause the victim harm; intent is not a legal element of negligence.
What Are Common Intentional Torts?
To better understand what intentional torts are, it can be helpful to look at some common examples. Here are a few common types of intentional torts:
- Assault – While assault and battery are often used interchangeably, they mean different things. Civil assault occurs when someone puts someone else in imminent fear of offensive or harmful contact. No actual contact is necessary for grounds for this tort claim to arise.
- Battery – In contrast, battery does require an offensive or harmful contact to occur. Examples of battery may include overt acts of violence, such as punching or kicking, as well as subtler forms, such as offensively brushing against someone else or knocking a hat off their head.
- False imprisonment – Someone can falsely imprison someone else when they restrain them from moving freely when they do not have the legal authority to do so.
- Trespass – Trespass to land occurs when a person intentionally enters someone else’s property without permission. Trespass to chattel occurs when someone uses another person’s property in a way that damages it or diminishes its value.
- Theft – Theft, or conversion in civil terms, occurs when one person intends to permanently deprive the owner of their property by taking it away.
- Intentional infliction of emotional distress – This occurs when someone does something to intentionally emotionally harm someone else, such as intentionally mishandling the person’s loved one’s body during a funeral or abusing them.
A lawyer can explain whether your situation involves an intentional tort or negligence.
What Are the Legal Challenges Involving Intentional Torts?
While intentional torts may involve more serious behaviors, they are not without legal complications. One complicating factor is that these cases require showing intent. You not only have to show what action the defendant took that gave rise to the claim but also the defendant’s mental state when committing that act.
Another complication is that insurance might not cover actions that involve intentional torts. Various insurance policies, including auto insurance, homeowner’s insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, and commercial liability insurance, can protect employers and property owners from damage that occurs because of their negligence. However, these insurance policies often specifically exclude intentional behavior.
What Financial Damages Are Available in Cases That Involve Intentional Torts?
For cases involving negligence or intentional acts, the damages the victim can recover are generally the same. These damages allow the victim to recover compensation for the economic and non-economic losses they suffered. Depending on the circumstances of the case, this may include:
- Medical expenses already incurred as well as those that are reasonably anticipated in the future
- Costs to repair or replace damaged property
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Funeral and burial costs in cases of wrongful death
One important distinction, however, is that in intentional tort cases, it may be more likely for victims to recover punitive damages. Punitive damages are not intended to compensate the victim like other damages. Instead, they are intended to punish the defendant for particularly egregious behavior, including the intent to cause bodily injury to another.
A Gainesville Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help With Your Intentional Tort Case
If you believe you have legal grounds for an action involving an intentional tort, contact a Gainesville personal injury attorney from Allen Law Firm, P.A. to learn more about your legal rights and options at (877) 255-3652. Most personal injury lawyers offer free consultations, so you can gain insight into whether you have a claim without hurting your pocket.