Intentional Tort

What is an Intentional Tort?

A tort is a wrongdoing recognized by law as grounds for a lawsuit. There are a few different ways of categorizing torts. An intentional tort is a category of torts, which describes wrongdoings that are the result of an intentional act.

What are some Common Intentional Torts?

Six common intentional torts are:

  • Battery
  • Assault
  • False imprisonment
  • Trespass to land
  • Conversion
  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress

What is Battery?

Battery has two elements. First, there must be an intent to cause harmful or offensive contact. Contact applies to the plaintiff’s body and any item attached to the plaintiff’s body such as a purse. This element is an objective standard and assesses what the defendant’s intentions were. It can be satisfied if the act’s purpose was to cause harmful or offensive conduct or if the defendant knew with substantial certainty that harmful contact would result from the defendant’s act. The second element requires that harmful or offensive contact actually occur. Courts analyze this element through a subjective standard.

What is Assault?

Assault occurs when the defendant intends to create an apprehension of imminent harmful or offensive contact and apprehension of imminent harmful or offensive conduct occurs. Intent means that the defendant acted in order to create apprehension of imminent harmful or offensive contact or the defendant had knowledge with substantial certainty that apprehension of imminent harmful or offensive contact would occur.

What is False Imprisonment?

False imprisonment is the intent to confine another within boundaries fixed by the actor, and the confided person is aware of the confinement or suffers harm.

What is Trespass to Land?

Trespass to land occurs when the defendant had intent to enter onto land that the plaintiff has a possessory interest in, and actually enters the land.

What is Conversion?

Conversion occurs when the defendant intends to exercise substantial dominion over chattel (property) and interferes with a plaintiff’s control over chattel. Harm is the full market value of the chattel.

What is Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress?

Intentional infliction of emotional distress occurs when the defendant intends to cause severe emotional harm or recklessly causing emotional harm. This emotional harm must occur through outrageous conduct, and severe emotional harm must occur.

How are Intentional Torts Different from Negligence and Strict Liability?

Negligence occurs when the defendant commits a breach of a duty that the defendant owed to the plaintiff. This breach of duty does not have to be intentional.

A defendant will be liable to the plaintiff in a strict liability case no matter what the defendant’s intention was and regardless of what precautions the defendant took to prevent injury to the plaintiff.

One big difference between intentional torts and other torts is that there may be more damages available in cases where an intentional tort was committed. Society has created a system designed to deter people from intentionally harming others. As a result, it may be easier for plaintiffs to obtain punitive damages in intentional torts cases as opposed to negligence and strict liability cases. On the other hand, intentional torts are rarely covered by insurance.