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Intentional Tort- A subsection of Tort Law

by | Dec 28, 2023 | Personal Injury


A wide variety of personal injury claims can be included in tort lawsuits, which comprise the most significant subset of civil litigation. Strict liability, intentional torts, and negligence torts are the three main categories.

Through this blog, you can acquire complete knowledge about torts, notably intentional torts, and their types.

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There are numerous intentional torts and defenses that might be presented in a lawsuit. You may fight for the financial compensation you deserve with the advice of an expert personal injury attorney and proper medical records (if needed).

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What is tort law?

Tort law is the legal field that deals with the majority of civil cases. Except for contractual conflicts, most claims that come before a civil court fall under the jurisdiction of tort law.

Tort law aims to rectify a mistake that has been made against a person and to protect them from the misdoings of others. Usually, this is done by compensating the victim with monetary damages. The original purpose of tort law was to recompense victims of injuries that could be proven.

For instance, in the case of a careless driver committing a car accident, the defendant (the driver) neglected to handle the vehicle prudently and reasonably, which led to the accident. The plaintiff in this case (the accident victim) would be eligible for financial compensation in a personal injury claim.

An intentional tort varies from other types of torts because the person who caused injury did so “knowingly” or “purposefully” in their state of mind.

Intentional torts: what is an intentional tort

Intentional torts occur when an individual or group deliberately participates in an activity that harms or damages another.

For instance, punching someone during a fight would be seen as an intentional act and would be subject to an intentional tort.

But accidentally hitting someone would not be regarded as “intentional” because there was no purpose to hurt the person (however, this act may be considered negligent if the person hit was injured).

Intentional tort types

  • Assault
  • Battery
  • False imprisonment
  • Conversion
  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress
  • Fraud/deceit
  • Trespass (to land and property)
  • Defamation


Assault is putting someone at a reasonable risk of harm or offense. It is one of the seven kinds of intentional torts.

Assault does not always indicate a physical act; it may also relate to emotional harm caused by wrongful acts. Assault is characterized as either a civil or criminal action under tort law.

Example for Assault

Fagan v. Metropolitan Police Commissioner

The defendant, Mr. Fagan, was in his car when a police officer approached him and told him to move his car. In accordance with the directions, Fagan backed his car up, accidentally rolling it onto the foot of the officer.

When the officer yelled at him to move his car off his foot, he cursed back at him, told him to wait, and refused to move, which was an act of defiance.

On this basis, it was decided that Fagan’s fault was not the failure to move the car but instead that he had created a continuous act of violence by driving onto the officer’s foot and refusing to stop. The conviction of Fagan was confirmed.


The battery intentionally contacts or exerts a force on another person or something close to the victim without the victim’s permission and to cause injury.

It is only considered when there is physical contact without the person’s consent to harm the person. Generally, assault is followed by a battery, which is why assault and battery are primarily used together.

The battery is often considered trespass to a person, so it is divided into two types:

  • Criminal Battery
  • Civil Battery

Criminal Battery

The criminal battery is often referred to the battery as a crime. When there is a purpose of killing or harming someone with an offensive physical touch, it is termed a storm of crime. In a criminal battery, the objective is essential since the action involves the desire to kill someone.

Civil Battery

Since the civil battery is a wrongful act, it is also known as the tort of battery. A civil battery occurs when a person intentionally affects another person without intending to do so. Still, the act was done with the knowledge that the action would cause harm to the victim.

The battery is regarded as an intentional tort, but the civil battery does not include the intent to cause harm. The victim may file a civil court suit against the defendant.

Example for Battery

Garratt vs. Dailey

In this intentional torts lawsuit, the defendant was a 5-year-old kid who went to the plaintiff’s house. The defendant moved the chair just as the plaintiff was going to sit on it, causing the plaintiff to fall and break his hip.


This prompted the plaintiff to file an intentional torts lawsuit against the defendant. According to the plaintiff’s sister, the chair had allegedly been relocated on purpose. The plaintiff, however, argued that the chair was moved to replace it and prevent the fall.

By accepting the plaintiff’s testimony, the court reached its decision in favor of the defendant. They came to the judgment that the child had no desire to harm the defendant unlawfully or maliciously. The court ensured the plaintiff received $11,000 in compensation and dismissed the Case.

False imprisonment

False imprisonment is when someone purposefully restricts another person’s freedom of movement without their consent or permission under the law. The penal code for your state has information on this, also known as unlawful imprisonment in the initial category.

For a person to be imprisoned, they don’t have to be placed behind bars; instead, they should be kept in a place from which they have no other means to escape except by the will of the person holding them there.

Example of false imprisonment

An armed bank robber yells at customers and tells them to get on their knees, threatening to murder them if they get up. They are imprisoned against their will, knowing they might be murdered or seriously hurt if they attempt to run.

The bank robber may face charges for wrongful imprisonment, and the captive bank clients may be able to seek compensation.

Conversion intentional tort

When someone steals another party’s chattel property intending to deprive them of it, it is conversion, an intentional tort.

“Intent” simply refers to the goal of owning the property or having ownership rights over it for conversion purposes. So, regardless of whether they were aware of the property’s ownership status, a party is nevertheless accountable for conversion.

Example for conversion

R.H. Willis & Son v. British Car Auctions

The plaintiffs in this intentional torts lawsuit were car dealers who sold the defendant a car after receiving around half of the purchase money under the hire-buy conditions that he was not to sell the car until he paid the remaining balance.

The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit for conversion after the defendant went bankrupt, and it became impossible to find the buyer of the car. The defendant paid the plaintiff’s damages in the form of the remaining price.

Intentional infliction of emotional distress

When someone acts abominably or outrageously, intending to cause another to experience significant emotional anguish, such as by threatening future damage, this is known as intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED).

The tort would remain the same even if some judges and commentators changed “mental” to “emotional.” It is pretty challenging to prove these allegations in court.

Example of Intentional infliction of emotional distress

In this instance, a former worker alleged that his supervisor had mistreated him because he was an African American.

This discriminatory conduct included:

  • Repeatedly threatening to fire the plaintiff without cause.
  • Using the n-word against the plaintiff in front of other workers.
  • Giving another supervisor instructions to create disciplinary occurrences against the plaintiff to justify the plaintiff’s firing.

According to the Third District Court of Appeal, the aforementioned conduct was “disgraceful, disagreeable, and disrespectful.”

The court decided that the supervisor’s actions were not sufficiently “extreme and outrageous” to entitle the plaintiff to compensation for the intentional infliction of mental distress.


Fraud, fraudulent misrepresentation, or misstatement occurs when someone makes a false statement to somebody on which they depend, and as a result of doing so, they experience harm.

Fraudulent misrepresentation is a tort issue known by the common name of deceit. Since this is a civil action, it will always be between two parties; usually, the petitioner will be a private company.

Example of Fraud/deceit

If someone says that a crane can lift 10,000 pounds while, in reality, it can only lift 2,000 pounds, and that person purchases the crane knowing that he must carry 9,00 pounds, that person may file a deceit claim against the other person.

Trespass (to land and property)

An individual may be held responsible for trespass to land if they physically enter the owner’s real property or induce an object or a third party to do so (light or smell do not count).

Since it is an intentional tort, the intent is necessary. Rather than having the intention to trespass, one must have the intention to enter or remain on the property, even if they are aware that it is owned privately.

Even a minimal damage claim will be accepted; the owner need not demonstrate that they experience value lowering or property mending damages.

Example for Trespass 

Bond v Kelly (1873)

Kelly was judged to have violated the law in this case because she acted beyond the boundaries of his job.

Kelly was legally permitted to access Bond’s property since he had been allowed to clean a plot of land there.

Kelly legally entered the land, but she illegally chopped down more trees than were required for lumber, leading to her being charged with trespassing.


Defamation is defined as any intentionally false statement made in written or oral form that harms a person’s reputation, undermines public opinion’s faith in them, or awakens unfriendly or unfavorable thoughts about them.

Example for Defamation

Zenger’s Case

Zenger’s Case is one of the more well-known and essential defamation cases in early American history (1735).

In a weekly newspaper, John Zenger criticized the governor of New York, who the monarch had chosen. The governor had Zenger detained and placed on trial for seditious libel.

A jury acquitted Zenger of the charge following a significant uproar. Many legal historians point to Zenger’s Case as creating the American legal principle that the truth is a defense against an accusation of libel and slander. The fact was ignored prior to Zenger’s Case.

Damages in intentional tort cases

If someone causes harm to you, a loved one, or your property, under an intentional torts lawsuit, you may be entitled to financial compensation in the following ways:

  • Current medical bills,
  • Future medical bills,
  • Damage to property,
  • Loss of income,
  • Loss of earning capacity,
  • Pain and suffering, or
  • Loss of consortium.

These are examples of intentional tort.

Defenses to intentional torts

A person accused of an intentional tort may employ one or more of the following defenses.

  • Consent: The defendant claims that the plaintiff gave their consent for them to behave in a particular manner. Consent may be “implied” or “expressed.”
  • Defense of Self or Others: The accused person may claim that the intentional tort was done in order to protect himself or others from danger. When defending oneself or another person, the amount of force used must be appropriate for the situation.
  • Defense of Property: Property may be protected by the reasonable use of force but never by the use of fatal force.
  • Necessity: The accused individual can argue that there was no other viable option and that the act was necessary.
  • Lack of Intent: The accused individual may argue that the act was not carried out with the necessary purpose and that, as a result, his or her acts were negligent or unintentional.

Statute of limitations

Compared to negligence claims, the statute of limitations for intentional tort lawsuits is typically two years. This general guideline has multiple exceptions, and your personal injury attorney may help you understand when to bring your claim by explaining the various exemptions.

Contact an intentional torts lawyer right now. Even though you would otherwise be entitled to compensation, your lawsuit will be rejected if the statute of limitations has passed before you bring it.

An effective and cathartic approach to rectifying the situation is to file a civil lawsuit, but your case can stumble into a variety of obstacles. This is especially the case if the injury was brought on by an assault, wrongful imprisonment, or other intentional behavior.

To learn more about your alternatives, it could be a good idea to speak with an accomplished intentional torts lawyer.

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