Unintentional torts are accidents that are caused by a person to you or your property. They are also known as negligent acts. A tort is the harmful act that results in an injury and it can be either intentional or unintentional. Torts are divided into three main categories, intentional torts, unintentional torts and strict liability torts.
Unintentional torts are when a person did not intend for the action that resulted in the injury or damage to the property, but they can still be held liable for failing to exercise reasonable due care a person would need to in the same situation.
How Does Negligence Operate as a Tort?
Negligence is the conduct that fails to exercise due care which ultimately causes harm to others. It is below the reasonable standard of care expected from individuals. The main difference between an intentional tort and an unintentional tort is the person’s state of mind. A person who commits an unintentional tort is negligent and does not intend to cause harm.
However, they are still legally obligated to pay for damages because their careless actions resulted in injuring someone. For example, if a store keeper fails to maintain safe conditions for its customer and a customer suffers injuries due to those conditions, the store keeper will be the reason for the customer’s injuries. Even though the store keeper may not have intended to cause the customer harm, an injury still occurred due to him or her failing to take reasonable precautions necessary to keep the store safe for customers use.
There are four factors that are taken into consideration when determining a negligence claim. A negligence lawsuit must demonstrate the following four elements:
- Duty of care is the obligation required to keep the people around you safe and use reasonable care;
- Breach of duty is failing to use reasonable care required in the situation to prevent harm to others;
- Causation is the link between the negligent conduct of the store keeper that resulted in the injury of the customer and;
- Damages must be suffered by the customer in order to be remedied in court and a mere breach is not sufficient.
Furthermore, there is a different standard for children set by the courts and they can still be held liable for the injuries they caused. The courts look to children similarly-aged and with similar life experiences to determine the standard for what a reasonable child would do in similar circumstances. By default, parents are not held liable for their children’s actions. They can be legally responsible if they fail to train their child or carefully supervise them. Additionally, courts do allow a child to sue a parent if they were injured because of the parent’s negligence.
What are Intentional Torts?
Intentional torts are not based on negligence; instead the party purposely caused the injury to the person. Here, the party knew that their action would result in serious bodily harm and were certain the damages would occur. The following actions are typically considered an intentional tort:
- Assault with a threat of injury or attempted battery, even if no battery takes place;
- Harmful conduct with another person even if there was no physical injury;
- Wrongfully taking and converting someone else’s property into your own;
- Illegally restraining someone or conducting false imprisonment; and
- Defamation or slander.
States will usually have their own system in categorizing the degrees of punishment for each of the various intentional torts. However, these are generally the intentional torts most of them consider punishable.
What Is the Difference of Damages Between Intentional and Unintentional Torts?
Generally, with intentional torts the party is also faced with criminal charges. As for the unintentional torts. The damages for negligence torts are mostly from the compensatory and non-compensatory damages. Compensatory damages repay the victim directly for their costs, including medical expenses, lost wages, and additional things. Non-compensatory damages deal with pain, suffering, and emotional trauma.
However, with the assistance of a lawyer, you can prove that the damages stem from the negligent conduct that resulted in the injury. The courts look to using the preponderance of the evidence standard to show the party’s liability for those damages.
When Do You Need to Contact a Lawyer?
If you or a family member believe you have a negligence claim due to an accident and suffered injuries, it is suggested to seek out a local unintentional torts lawyer to better assist you with the case. Depending on the state you reside in, the amount recoverable for injuries sustained can vary.
It can become challenging to meet the proof requirements for a negligence claim. Therefore an unintentional torts lawyer can help in gathering the required evidence for a successful claim. The reasonable person standard often varies depending on the age of the party in the negligence claims. Therefore, it is important to research the correct standard to apply for any negligence claim.