In personal injury law, there’s such a thing as an intentional tort. Learn what one is and how it affects you.
About Intentional Torts
When you think of most personal injury claims, you think of negligent, careless, or reckless behavior. The individual doesn’t intend to harm someone, but because they acted in an unreasonable way that most people wouldn’t, another person gets hurt.
So they bear at least some level of responsibility for any injuries that result.
With intentional tort, the alleged wrongdoer intended to commit harm to someone else. For example, someone says some nasty words to you in a bar. They then physically hit you when you step outside to chat with some friends.
They intended to roll up their hand into a fist, punch you, and cause harm to you.
No doubt that’s intentional.
Two Kinds of Intentional Tort
There are two kinds of intentional tort: specific and general. In the case just discussed, that would be specific tort. The other party took a specific action and knew it would likely cause a specific kind of harm to you.
Let’s say you know someone that has a serious heart condition. You don’t like them all that much. And one day, you decide to scare them, just to bug them a little.
Well, your plans succeed much more than you think. You terrify the person so much they have a heart attack.
That’s a general tort. You certainly intended to cause harm to the other person. However, you didn’t want to cause them a heart attack.
Types of Intentional Torts
Some of these you’ve heard of. Others you haven’t, or they’re difficult to prove. Here are the different types of intentional torts you can commit:
- Wrongful death
- False imprisonment
- Intentional infliction of emotional distress
- Invasion of privacy
Intentional Torts and Crimes
You’ll notice that many of the torts listed are also crimes. Some do overlap into both categories – assault, battery, wrongful death. For example, if a drunk driver hits and kills someone in your family, they’ll be accused of a crime by the state. And then you can file a wrongful death lawsuit against them.
Criminal cases are intended to punish the guilty person and protect the public from their actions. Civil cases, on the other hand, are there to give you financial compensation for the damages you or your loved one experienced.
Sounds pretty fair in theory. But it doesn’t always play out that way in court. And in fact, a large part of any legal outcome – civil or criminal – depends on the skill of the personal injury attorney representing you.