Assault, Battery and Intentional Torts
Torts are involved in many civil lawsuits. A tort is a form of wrongful or negligent action that results in harm to another person's body, psyche or both. The harm caused by a tort may be a physical injury, damage to ones property, emotional damage or damage to ones reputation. Negligence can be generally explained as an act of carelessness, that results in harm to another party. Most torts are the result of negligence, but some may result from intentional actions. These actions are called intentional torts. Legal action in the form of a lawsuit may be available to recover damages for intentional as well as negligent behavior when that behavior causes damages.
Negligent Versus Intentional Conduct
When a tort is intentional that means the wrongful action was done purposely. This definition is based solely on the mindset of the person who committed the action. The simplest example of an intentional tort would be: a person punching someone in the face. In such a situation, the first person made a choice and intended to hit the second person in the face with their fist. The first person also intended for their action to cause harm to the second person. However, intentional torts can occur even if a the person doesn't mean for the act to cause harm. For example, say there is a person who has a friend that suffers from anxiety and a heart condition. This person is completely aware of their friends condition, yet decides to jump out to surprise and scare them. As a result of the intentional surprise, the friend suffers a heart attack. This action was an intentional tort, even though is was not the persons intention to cause harm. On the other hand, a "regular tort" is the result of a persons negligence, not their intentions. For example, a person blindly turns a corner and accidentally runs into somebody who then falls down and gets hurt. That is a regular tort, because it was the result of negligence and not an intentional act.
Types of Intentional Torts
There are multiple types of intentional torts that are common. Battery and assault are of the most obvious types. Fraud, false imprisonment, misrepresentation, libel or slander, and wrongful death claims can be considered intentional torts as well. The following is a non-comprehensive list of intentional torts that are actionable under the law.
- Battery and assault are closely related. Assault occurs when a person puts another person in a position of apprehension of harm. For example, if you go up to someone and raise your fist as if to strike them in the face, you have committed assault. Even if you do not actually touch the person, you have assaulted them by making them believe they are in immediate danger. Battery takes assault one step further, the victim is actually hit or subjected to unwanted touching. Battery is defined as "harmful or offensive contact with another". Battery and assault are commonly paired together because many batteries also include assault.
- Slander and libel occurs when a person intentionally makes a false statement that damages the reputation of another. Slander refers to verbal statements, while libel refers to statements written and published.
- Fraud occurs when a person commits an intentional act of deception with the goal of benefiting personally, or doing damage to another party.
- False imprisonment is when a person holds another party against their will, restricting their freedom.
- Wrongful death suits come about when one party claims the actions, intentional or negligent, of another party caused injuries that resulted in death.
Intentional Torts, Civil or Criminal?
Many intentional torts result in civil cases, civil cases are lawsuits brought by one private citizen against another. However, many intentional torts are also crimes, like battery for example. Criminal cases are much different than civil. Criminal proceedings are brought by the state or federal government, against a person who is accused of violating a criminal statue. While civil cases are about recovering damages, criminal cases are about protecting the welfare of the public and punishing violators of the law. Battery is the most obvious example of an action that is both an intentional tort and a crime. A person accused of battery may stand trial and be judged by a jury of their peers. If the person is found to be guilty of the crime of battery, they may face jail time. However, regardless of the result of the criminal proceedings, the victim of battery may still file a civil lawsuit in hopes of recovering damages from the accused.
Perhaps the most famous example of when an intentional tort is also a crime, is the OJ Simpson trial. After Simpson was found not guilty of murder in criminal court, the families of the victims filed a civil lawsuit against Simpson for wrongful death. Civil trials do not base decisions on "beyond a reasonable doubt" and require a lower burden of proof as compared to criminal court. This resulted in Simpson being ruled liable for the deaths of the victims, where he was ordered to pay great amounts of money in damages, but remained free of criminal charges.
Seek Attorney Advice For Intentional Tort Scenarios
When you have been purposefully harmed by another, it is extremely important to seek the advice of a personal injury attorney. If you or a loved one is the victim of another's intentional wrongdoing that has resulted in physical harm or fatal injuries, The Napolin Law Firm is here to provide trusted help. By speaking with a lawyer you can obtain the legal guidance necessary to understand your situation and evaluate your position in a potential lawsuit. At The Napolin Law Firm, we are here to get you through this difficult time, starting with a free consultation! Call to speak with an assault and battery lawyer today, at no cost.