Intentional Torts

false imprisonmentAlthough most personal injury cases originate from accidents of one kind or another, a much smaller class of personal injury cases are “intentional torts.” Intentional torts are torts that occur when an individual intends to cause harm to another person. If someone intends to do harm to another person, the victim can bring both a civil claim and criminal action.

Examples of intentional torts

Fraud: Fraud exists when a person deliberately deceives someone else to injure that person or to obtain some benefit. The damage done to the victim does not have to be physical; financial injuries are covered under the definition of fraud as well.

Assault and battery: A battery is an act that results in harmful or offensive contact without the victim’s consent. With assault, on the other hand, one does not actually have to ‘contact’ the victim to be liable. Assault occurs when a person commits an intentional act that puts another person in apprehension of harm. If you make a fist or feign a punch toward another person, for example, you may be liable for assault. Although assault and battery are commonly put together, they are actually two separate concepts in tort law.

False imprisonment: False imprisonment is another common example of an intentional tort. False imprisonment occurs when a person willfully detains another person, without his or her consent, and without lawful authority. There are some interesting cases of false imprisonment with regard to the concept of ‘shopkeeper’s privilege.’ Under the shopkeeper’s privilege, a store owner is allowed to detain a person he or she believes may be shoplifting, for a reasonable period of time, in order to determine whether there was an attempted theft. This is not the same right that police have, and courts typically look very closely at how long and for what reason the suspected shoplifter was detained.

The difference between intentional torts and crimes

As stated earlier, intentional torts can also be crimes. An intentional tort, a battery for example, can result in a civil claim in which one person files a lawsuit against another person. If the person is found liable, he or she may be ordered to pay damages to the victim of the act. A criminal case, alternatively, is brought by the state against the individual who committed the act for disobeying a criminal statute. The state brings criminal cases against individuals, not so that the victim can be compensated, but so citizens within the state can be protected and justice against the individual can be served.

A great example of the difference between an intentional tort claim and a criminal case is the trial of OJ Simpson. With Johnny Cochran as OJ Simpson’s attorney, Simpson was found not guilty of murder in his criminal trial. Despite this, however, he was also sued for wrongful death in civil court and was held liable. He subsequently had to pay damages to the aggrieved families.

If you would like to know more about intentional torts, or think you may have a claim against another person, contact the Appel Law Firm today.

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