Tort law is divided into three categories:
- Negligence tort – the defendant’s actions showed a lack of care and caused harm to the plaintiff.
- Intentional tort – the defendant’s actions were intentional and caused harm to the plaintiff.
- Strict liability tort – the defendant was participating in a dangerous activity that gives them liability regardless of what precautions they took or how the harm occurred.
In order to be successful in an intentional tort lawsuit, the plaintiff must show evidence to the defendant’s intent in regards to the incident in question.
Types of Intentional Torts
A large number of lawsuits fall under the broad category of intentional tort. Basically, it covers all actions that were done purposefully and caused harm to the plaintiff. Assault, battery, and trespassing are the most common types of intentional torts we see.
The seven types of intentional torts are:
- Trespass to Land
- Trespass to Chattels
- Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
- False imprisonment
In addition to the intentional tort, the plaintiff may press criminal charges for the defendant’s actions in some situations. The intentional tort will be heard separately, and it is possible to win the intentional tort even if the defendant is found not guilty in the criminal trial.
Damages In an Intentional Tort
Tort law requires there to be damages for which the plaintiff seeks compensation. If there are no damages to claim, then you do not have a case.
The damages you can claim in an intentional tort will depend on the type of intentional tort you are filing. For example, in a trespass to chattels intentional tort, you can only claim actual damage to your property or a reduction in its value. In an intentional infliction of emotional distress intentional tort, you can claim actual damages, such as therapy costs or medical bills for the physical manifestations of stress or trauma as well as emotional distress, mental anguish, etc.
If you are planning to file an intentional tort, start keeping any evidence of the defendant’s actions and any costs even remotely related to the defendant’s actions or your harm. Your lawyer will be able to tell you if costs are relevant and can be used as damages in your intentional tort or not.
Legal Elements of an Intentional Tort
In an intentional tort, there are a number of legal elements you need to prove in order to win your case. If you do not show convincing enough evidence for even one of these legal elements, your case may be dismissed.
- Intention – The plaintiff must show that the defendant intended to take the action that they did. It does not matter if the intention was to hurt someone or the defendant realized that their actions could cause harm. It only matters that the action was intentional.
- Damages – As a civil lawsuit, there must be damages to right in an intentional tort case. The types of damages you can claim will depend on the type of intentional tort case and the circumstances of your claim. Without damages, you do not have a case.
In addition to these legal elements, the different types of intentional torts may have additional legal elements specific to that type of claim.