Personal Injury Law — What is Intentional Tort?

What Is An Intentional Tort?

An intentional tort is an intentional action or act causing injury to another which can result in a legal claim or action. The law of intentional torts describes the types of civil cases which arise from intentional acts as opposed to that area of civil law involving other areas such as negligence or breach of contract.

Negligent/accidental acts or claims involve the failure of a person to act with "reasonable care" and the failure results in injury or damage to another person. This is different from an intentional tort, which requires an additional element of "intent". This simply means that, for an intentional tort to exist, the wrongdoer must have intended to act in furtherance of some harm. It does not mean that the wrongdoer intended to cause every specific injury that resulted, but only that he/she intended to perform the actions that would result in some injury.

Intentional Tort vs. Negligence

Example of negligence vs. intentional tort:

  • Accidentally backing into a parked car would be an act of negligence.
  • Purposely running a car into a pedestrian would be an intentional tort, known as battery.

What are some types of intentional torts?

Some types of intentional torts include:

  • battery,
  • trespass,
  • intentional infliction of emotional distress,
  • conversion/theft
  • false imprisonment.

Certain types of slander cases and libel cases may also be included in the category of intentional tort.

How is an intentional tort "legally" different from a negligence case?

Intentional torts require intent, not mere carelessness. In addition to the added element of intent, an intentional tort may allow the injured party to seek certain damages such as punitive damages. The policy behind this is to punish individuals for acting with intent to injure, as opposed to merely compensating the injured party.

Intentional Tort Cases & Insurance

Another important aspect of an intentional tort, that is different from a negligence case, is that an intentional tort is typically an uninsurable claim. Most insurance companies' liability policies will exclude all intentional actions. As a result, many times an intentional tort case is more difficult for a lawyer to pursue than a negligence case, even though the liability is probably clearer! This is because the attorney realizes that, even if the case prevails at trial, he/she may never be able to collect the damages resulting from the intentional actions.

In that scenario, even though there is victory/judgment at trial, both the attorney and the plaintiff would not be able to recover any money damages unless the defendant had the assets available to pay the judgment. This is a rare case, because most people with assets will figure out how to shield them from lawsuits.

Contact A Personal Injury / Intentional Tort Lawyer

If you think you have an intentional tort case, contact Warner, Sechrest & Butts in Gainesville, FL. Our personal injury lawyers offer free initial consultations and will help you determine whether you have a case worth pursuing. Find out what your case is worth and call us today.