What are intentional torts?

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Question:

What are intentional torts?

Answer:

Intentional torts fall into the category of personal injury law; however, they occur because someone intentionally caused harm or injury rather than doing so negligently. The damage awards are generally higher in intentional torts than they are in negligence torts, since society desires to discourage intentional acts of harm. As a result, the victim of an intentional tort often has the right to seek punitive damages in addition to the compensation they would normally receive in a personal injury claim.

In order to prove that an act was intentional, the victim must prove that the defendant intended to cause the harm or damage that resulted. These are often more difficult cases to prove, since it can be difficult, and sometimes impossible, to prove what was in someone’s mind when they performed a harmful act.

The most common areas of intentional torts include:

  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Conversion (or theft)
  • False imprisonment
  • Fraud
  • Trespass (personal property)
  • Trespass (land)
  • Invasion of Privacy
  • Dignitary torts (including slander and libel)
  • Emotional distress that was intentionally inflicted

Because intentional torts are so difficult to prove, it is often essential to retain a personal injury attorney to assess the case and determine if they are valid. In addition, because the costs of compiling evidence and proving intent are so costly and the awards generally so high, the defendant may have a skilled attorney of their own that makes these such difficult suits to win.

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