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What is an Intentional Tort?

Founding Member of Moshes Law, P.C.
During his years of practice, Yuriy has concentrated in litigation and real estate transactions as his areas of expertise.

Before we Delve into what the definition of intentional tort is, we first need to understand what a tort is. The basic definition according to most legal scholars is that a tort is a kind of wrongful act that can cause harm to someone else. From this very basic definition, torts can be split into different categories, one of which is intentional torts.

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    Explaining Intentional Torts

    Now that we understand what a tort is, let us look farther into what an intentional tort is. 

    At its root, intentional torts are wrongful acts that are done on purpose or with intent. They can and are, oftentimes, events that are done without intent to harm, but the decision making is flawed that the person committing the intentional act should have known that their behavior had a high chance to cause harm.

    A great example of an intentional tort that might not have had the intent of harming another is playing a prank on someone. Oftentimes people will play a prank on somebody; a friend or coworker and the prank ends up causing physical and/or mental harm. The friends did not mean to hurt their individual but should have known better that it was a possibility. 

    There are other types of torts, which we will cover farther into this article. 

    Differences Between Intentional Torts and Crime

    A crime is not just something that is wrong, but more importantly, is a wrong doing that is counter to a law that prohibits the action, or wrongdoing. When someone commits a crime, it is “against the law”, or the code that prohibits the action. Things can certainly be “wrong” or immoral, but not necessarily against the law, if no law is on the books. 

    For example, in the early days of the internet, there was plenty of wrongdoing going on, but there were no laws regulating many things. There have to be laws on the books for something to be considered a crime. 

    Amongst legal scholars, crimes are considered illegal for the following reasons:

    • First, there must be a law that the crime goes against in the society.
    • Second, crime impacts the standard of living of that society; they have a right to live peacefully in a given society.
    • Finally, a crime is an act that goes against fundamental human rights, such as the right to live. 
    intentional tort

    Usual Types of Torts

    Other more direct, and obvious examples of an intentional tort include:

    • A punch in the face.
    • Battery (hitting someone, i.e. punch, slap)
    • Sexual battery (touching someone in a sexual manner. 
    •  Assault – Many people confuse assault and battery. Assault is the threat or attempt to batter someone. 
    • False Imprisonment – Confinement without legal authority. Restricting somebody’s ability to move as they please.
    • Intentional infliction of emotional distress – Again, pranking can cause this, tricking somebody into thinking they are in a distressful situation or that a loved one died. 
    • Fraud – Lying to an individual when they know it is false information, especially if they know the individual is gullible. 
    • Defamation – When a person knowing says something untrue and false about a person; libel and slander. Defamation is even possible when the information is truthful, but embarrassing to the individual. 

    Intentional Torts Examples

    Using the example from earlier, when it comes to battery, an intentional tort example would be the person making a conscious effort to make a fist and strike a person anywhere on their body. 

    With this strike, utilizing their closed fist, the batterer intended to hurt the victim, and thus, an intentional tort, or wrongdoing. 

    Defenses to Intentional Torts

    Now that we have covered what a tort is and is not, it is time to consider how to defend against an intentional tort case. 

    Some common defenses to an intentional tort include:

    • Self Defense
    • Defense of Property
    • Recapture of Chattels
    • Assumption of risk 
    • Shopkeeper’s Privilege

    Defense of Necessity Definition

    Typically employed for emergency situations, necessity permits a defendant to have acted in a wrongful manner in an attempt to prevent a worse outcome; almost like a lesser of two evils scenario. 

    This defense typically applies in two situations; public and private. 

    A good example of a private necessity would be an individual having to trespass into someone else’s property to protect themselves or the other person’s property. For example, they broke a window to enter a home that was on fire to save a child or pet that had to be rescued immediately. 

    A public necessity may apply to the same type of emergency situation, but this time, it is a public employee, like a firefighter. They see someone’s life endangered inside a burning home. They then “trespass” into the home to save the child or pet. The public necessity defense would apply here. 

    Other Defenses to Intentional Torts

    As we talked about earlier, there are many different types of confidential information and they are typically obvious based on a lack of public knowledge or security measures in place to protect the information.

    Still, oftentimes, confidential information may be requested or made use of for some social good, such as research or other types of projects. 

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      Many times, institutions that collect sensitive information are asked to share the information. If the request shows promise as a research project, and does some good for society, the institutions may grant access, however, the data is shared in a non personally identifiable way, once again, showing the importance of safeguarding and protecting sensitive, confidential information. 

      Get the Help of Experienced Attorneys with Your Intentional Torts Case Now

      If you have questions about torts, intentional torts or the defenses against torts, we highly suggest you reach out to us at Moshes Law.

      We have the experience and expertise to get you the result you need regarding your intentional tort case. Do not let the wrongdoing of another continue to harm you without proper recourse. 

      FAQs

      What are the most typical Intentional Torts?

      Based on experience and research, conversion, trespassing and battery appear to be the most typical intentional torts brought to litigation.

      Is harassment an intentional tort?

      If it can be proved that the harassment was done on purpose to inflict physical and/or mental distress, it is certainly considered an intentional tort.

      About the Author
      Gennady Litvin, Esq. is an associate with the Law Office of Yuriy Moshes, P.C. Mr. Litvin graduated Pace university with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Economics, and earned his J.D. at the University of Miami School of Law where he was a member of the Business Law Review.

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