Intentional torts refer to violations that result from the intentional conduct on the part of the defendant which causes harm to someone else. Unlike other civil violations such as negligence or strict liability offenses, intentional torts require that the defendant acted intentionally in causing harm to the victim or to the victim’s property.
In contrast, negligence refers to a failure on the part of the defendant to perform a certain duty or to exercise a certain level of care while strict liability violations are based on certain actions and not dependent on what measures of care were taken.
However, even though intentional torts are based on an intention to perform an action, the individual who committed the intentional tort can be held liable whether they intended any harm or not.
For example, if you surprise someone with an unstable physical condition and that surprise causes them to fall down and have a serious injury, you have committed an intentional tort even though you did not intend any harm to that individual.
Are there Different Types of Intentional Torts?
There are many different types of torts, and they can be broken down into three categories that are easier to understand: physical, emotional, and property.
While these are not technical, legal terms that lawyers use, they are terms that can help people understand the different intentional torts and how they work.
Intentional Torts: Physical
Battery: This refers to making harmful or offensive contact with someone without their consent and it covers different types of physical contact.
Assault: This refers to an attempted battery and it occurs when the defendant creates an imminent apprehension in the plaintiff that there will be harmful or offensive contact.
Both assault and battery can also be criminal charges, but in civil law they carry different punishments and it's up to the victim of the assault/battery to file a lawsuit.
False Imprisonment: This refers to confining someone without having any legal authority to do so and generally speaking, no one is allowed to restrict another individual’s movement against their will. However, there are two major exceptions.
Police generally have the authority to detain individuals they reasonably suspect of crimes. The other major exception is the “shopkeeper’s privilege” which allows shopkeepers to keep individuals they suspect of shoplifting for a reasonable amount of time.
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Intentional Torts: Emotional
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress: This refers to engaging in extreme or outrageous conduct which causes severe emotional distress or bodily harm.
Invasion of Privacy: Laws regarding this can vary by state but there are four major types of invasions of privacy:
- Invasion of solitude which refers to interfering with someone else’s right to be left alone.
- Public disclosure of private facts.
- False light, which occurs when someone publishes facts about someone else which are not true but not defamatory.
- Appropriation, which is the unauthorized use of someone else’s likeness for profit.
Defamation: This occurs when someone says something false about someone else and that lie in turn causes harm. The two types of defamation are libel (written words) and slander (spoken words).
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Intentional Torts: Property
Fraud: This tort is based on lying to someone. In order to succeed in a suit for fraud, plaintiffs have to prove the following elements:
- The speaker knew that they were saying something false;
- The other individual would believe the speaker;
- The other individual would rely on that information; and
- The other individual would be harmed by relying on this information.
Trespass: The two forms of this tort are trespass to land and trespass to chattel or personal property and in both cases trespass means using the property without the permission of the owner.
Conversion: This occurs when someone takes someone else’s property and converts it to their own.
Should I Contact a Lawyer?
Intentional torts often involve complex legal theories and definitions and intentional tort laws can vary from state to state. In this context, it would be beneficial to consult with a local personal injury attorney before proceeding.