Intentional Tort - Definition, Types, Examples and Cases (2022)

A tort is a wrongful act in which harm or injury is caused to another person. The term “tort” covers a vast range of actions in tort law, and is divided into subcategories, which include “intentional tort.” Intentional tort occurs when a person intends to perform an action that causes harm to another. For intentional tort to be proven, it is not required for the person causing the harm to intentionally cause an actual injury, they must only intend to perform the act. For instance, if a person intentionally frightens a person with a bad heart, who then has a heart attack as a result of the action, it would be an intentional tort even though the person did not have the intention of causing the heart attack. To explore this concept, consider the following intentional tortdefinition.

Definition of Tort


  1. A wrongful or unlawful act or infringement of rights which lead to civil legal liability
  1. A civil wrong that occurs when a person causes harm to another with knowledge that harm or injury can occur


(Video) Common Intentional Torts: Part 1

Late 16th century Medieval Latin tortum

Elements of Intentional Tort

Proving an intentional tort requires that the victim show the defendant acted with the specific intent to perform the act that caused the injuries or damage. The defendant does not necessarily have to know that injuries would occur as a result of the act, just that the act is subject to consequences. In order to successfully sue another person for intentional tort, certain elements must be in place:


Intent is defined as acting with purpose or having knowledge that the act in question can cause injury or harm to another person. If the element of intent is not in place, it can be referred to simply as a tort.


Acting requires the person to perform an act that results in harm or injury to another. Thinking about or planning to perform an act does not constitute acting.

(Video) Episode 2.1: An Overview of Intentional Torts

Actual Cause

This element requires the victim to prove that, without the defendant’s actions or “causes,” the injuries or damage would not have occurred.

Examples of Intentional Tort

  1. A child named John kicks Adam during recess at school and the kick causes significant damage as Adam already suffers from a disability. John does not know that Adam suffers a disability, but he does know that kicking someone will cause discomfort. This constitutes intentional tort since John “intended” to kick Adam knowing the “act” could cause harm. If John had not kicked Adam, the “actual cause” of the injury would not have occurred.
  2. Bob and Rick get into an argument and Bob punches Rick in the face, breaking his nose. Bob feels guilty because, even though he was mad and intended to hit Rick, he did not intend to break his nose. Rick sues Bob for medical expenses related to the injury and wins the suit. The judge rules that, even though Bob did not intend to break Rick’s nose, he did intend to hit him and he had the knowledge that hitting another person could cause injury.

Typical Types of Intentional Tort

There are many types of intentional tort with the most common being:

  • Conversion – the act of someone taking another person’s property and converting it to his own use. This is also known as “stealing” in many jurisdictions.
  • Trespassing – the act of using or occupying another person’s real property without permission.
  • Battery – the illegal act of harmful or offensive contact with another person’s body. The word comes from the term “to batter” and it covers an array of activities including firing a gun at someone or using the hands to cause harm to another person.
  • Assault – an intentional act creating in another person apprehension or fear of being harmed. Assault is carried out by threat of causing bodily harm, together with the victim’s perception that the aggressor has the ability to cause harm.
  • Intentional Emotional Distress – the act of causing mental anguish to another person through outrageous conduct, injury, or other harm.
  • False Imprisonment – act of holding someone against their will without legal authority. According to the law, a citizen is not allowed to restrict the movement of another person without his consent. Business owners can, however, detain people suspected of shoplifting.
  • Fraud – the act of intentionally deceiving a person or entity for the purpose of monetary gain.

Intentional Tort and Crime

Many intentional torts are classified as both criminal and civil acts. An intentional tort which is the subject of criminal prosecution often results in a civil suit between the parties. If the defendant in the civil lawsuit loses, he may be ordered to pay the injured party monetary damages. Unlike the civil cases brought for intentional tort, the prosecution for the criminal act does not focus on monetary reimbursement to the victim, but rather protecting the public and punishing the guilty party.

Some crimes fall under both categories of tort law. Battery is just one instance an intentional tort that is also a crime. In this case, the injured party may choose to file a civil lawsuit seeking damages from the defendant, whether or not the accused person has been found guilty in criminal court.

(Video) What is an Intentional Tort?

Negligence vs. Intent

Intentional tort requires the person who committed the act to do so deliberately. This sets it apart from other torts, including negligence. Negligence is defined as the failure to use proper care, which results in damage or injury to another. For instance, when two people are in a car accident, it is typically considered negligence since the offending driver failed to use proper care when operating his vehicle. On the other hand, if the accident occurred and the offending driver intended to crash into another vehicle, it would be an intentional tort.

Actual Intentional Tort Cases

Courts around the United States hear intentional tort cases on a daily basis; some, however, have help set standards for future legal decisions.

Garratt v. Dailey, 46 Wash. 2d 197, 279 P.2d 1091 (Wash. 1955)

In 1955, a young boy named Brian pulled a chair from underneath Ruth Garratt as she went to sit down. As a result of Brian’s chair-pulling, Ruth fell and broke her hip. Ruth filed a lawsuit against Brian’s family stating that he had acted intentionally, causing her personal injury. The court determined that, even though Brian did not intend to cause an injury, the act did result in the broken hip, and awarded Ruth $11,000 dollars in damages. Brian’s family appealed on the basis that 5 year-old children cannot be liable for intentional tort. The court ruled that children can indeed be held liable and that the element of intent is in place if the person knew with certainty that the act carried a risk of injury.

White v. Muniz 999 P.2d 814

Helen Everly, a resident at the Beatrice Hover Personal Care Center, suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. During her time at the facility, Helen struck a personal caregiver named Sherry Muniz. As a result of the attack, Muniz brought a lawsuit against Everly’s granddaughter, Barbara White. The jury in the case found White not guilty, as Everly could not intend to injure the caregiver due to her mental incapacity.

(Video) Torts: Intentional Torts Overview — Essential Elements of the Prima Facie Case

While mental illness does not constitute a defense against an intentional tort, it is often considered in court if the illness in question prevented the defendant from knowing with certainty that the act would result in injury.

Bettel et al. v. Yim, [1978] 20 O.R. (2d)

In 1976, Howard Bettel and some friends entered Ki Yim’s store. After the boys began acting outrageously, an employee asked them to leave. Instead of immediately leaving the property, the boys went to the front of the store and began throwing wooden matches on the sidewalk. One of the matches ignited and caused a small fire inside the store. The employee and the owner of the store put out the fire and Yim grabbed Bettel with both hands to restrain him. While grabbing Bettel, Yim’s forehead hit him in the face causing severe injuries to his nose. Bettel filed a suit against Yim asking for damages due to the assault. Bettel’s father also sued for over $1,000 for medical expenses. The judge hearing the case ruled in favor of Bettel, stating that the act fell under the premise of battery. Though Yim did not intend to hit Bettel in the nose, he had knowledge that his actions could cause harm. Bettel was awarded $5,000 and his father was awarded the amount needed to cover medical expenses.

Houdek v. ThyssenKrupp Materials, N.A., Inc., 2012-Ohio-5685

In 2012, Bruce Houdek showed up for work at ThyssenKrupp’s warehouse after being assigned to light duty due to any injury. His manager instructed him to re-label products on the storage racks while sideloaders pulled the merchandise from the racks. A sideload operator named Krajacic asked the manager if it was safe to pull the products while Houdek was labeling products, to which the manager replied it was. Krajacic went about pulling merchandise from the shelf and the sideloader hit Houdek, pinning him down and breaking his leg. Houdek sued ThyssenKrupp claiming intentional tort, but the judge ruled in favor of the plaintiff stating there was no evidence that the employer intended or had foreseen an injury taking place.

Related Legal Terms and Issues

  • Attempted Battery – a threat or physical act by a person with the intention of causing harm
  • Defendant – a person accused of a crime or against whom a civil lawsuit is filed
  • Mental Anguish – negative feelings including fright, depression, anxiety, and panic. Suffering from a mental illness such as depression can also fall under the definition of mental anguish.


Which is an example of an intentional tort? ›

Common intentional torts are battery, assault, false imprisonment, trespass to land, trespass to chattels, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Is intentional a type of tort? ›

An area of civil litigation, “intentional torts” are defined by knowingly or purposefully caused harm. A tort is a harmful act that causes damages to another.

What is the most common form of intentional tort? ›

The most common intentional torts for which people contact an attorney are battery, assault, and trespass to property. If you have been the victim of these common torts, please use this form to contact an intentional tort attorney for a free case evaluation.

What are the 4 most common torts? ›

Common torts include:assault, battery, damage to personal property, conversion of personal property, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Tort law defined and explained with examples. The set of laws that provides remedies to people who have suffered harm by the unreasonable acts of another.

Intent is a key issue in proving an intentional tort , as the injured party, called the Plaintiff, must prove to the court that the other party, called the Respondent or Defendant, acted intentionally, and knew that his actions could cause harm.. The named defendant is the manufacturer of the defective product The product was defective when the plaintiff purchased it The defect was present when the defendant sold the product The defect caused the plaintiff’s injuries or damages The injuries or damages caused by the product’s defect were reasonably foreseeable by the defendant. Zoom Auto manufactured the defective vehicle The car’s brake system was defective when she bought the car The car’s brake system was defective when Zoom Auto sold the car to Amanda The brake defect caused Amanda’s injuries, as well as the severe damage to her car It was reasonably foreseeable that selling a car with a defective brake system would cause injury to consumers Zoom Auto knew about the defective brake system in this particular model car before they sold the vehicles, yet chose to sell them anyway, in blatant disregard of the safety of consumers. In 1946, Congress passed the Federal Tort Claims Act, giving people the right to sue the U.S. government in federal court for tortious acts committed by individuals acting in their rolls as federal government employees.. The Federal Tort Claims Act also exempts the federal government from certain specified torts, though this protection is not extended to intentional torts committed by law enforcement officials.. His property was damaged, or he was injured, by the actions of an employee of the federal government The federal employee was acting in his official capacity at the time the damage or injury occurred The federal employee acted wrongfully, or negligently The federal employee’s wrongful or negligent act caused the plaintiff’s damages or injury. Many proposed tort reform acts have proven to be ill considered, however, as they seek to make it more difficult for people to file civil lawsuits, to make it more difficult for plaintiffs to obtain a jury trial on a civil matter, and to cap the amount of money plaintiffs can be awarded in various types of civil lawsuits.

Here, "harm" is a pretty broad term that encompasses any type of wrongdoing that causes the victim to be physically or emotionally injured, suffer a loss, or otherwise experience damage that they are eligible to sue for.

A tort case, often called a personal injury case, is one in which the judge is determining if the defendant is at fault for committing the injury against the victim, as well as how much compensation the injured party is eligible for if the defendant is found guilty.. Tort laws have quite a few purposes, namely to provide compensation when injury or harm occur, deter citizens from committing crimes against each other, and establish penalties and liability for when these harmful acts do occur.. Though exact laws will likely vary by state, they can also vary from judge to judge, as they often have a wide discretion concerning what the language of the law means, what actions actually apply to those laws, what defenses they find acceptable for each individual case, and the appropriate compensation and penalties to match both the defendant’s liability and the plaintiff’s injury.. Even if the defendant didn’t intend to actually harm the victim, just intending to commit the wrongful act is enough for a guilty verdict in an intentional tort case, but it is always necessary for intent to be proven in these cases.. Negligent Torts The most common kind of tort doesn’t require intent; however, negligent torts do require that there be some kind of recklessness or abandonment of one’s legal or civil duty.. Proving someone’s duty to act will typically involve evidence of the defendant creating the risk that caused the victim’s harm, the defendant volunteering to keep the victim from harm, the defendant being aware that their actions could harm the victim, or that there was some sort of business or voluntary relationship between the defendant and the victim – such as a business owner and client, an employer and employee, or a defendant who took custody of the victim.. The harm that occurred must be either bodily harm or harm to their property, which usually means that economic loss isn’t enough for a negligence case.. These tort cases don’t even require negligence or direct fault to be proven, but instead, they focus on whether a harm occurred as a result of the actions of the defendant.. As many tort cases involve injuries that result in loss employment or wages, physical or emotional suffering, and medical expenses, the judge will likely put some sort of monetary value on the damages the plaintiff suffered, and the defendant will be required to provide compensation.. In other cases, when deemed appropriate, the defendant may also be assigned a punitive penalty, which is any kind of sentencing that isn’t intended to compensate the plaintiff’s loss, but rather provide a punishment for the defendant.. Negligent torts have quite a few elements to prove, so they can specifically argue that they didn’t have a duty to act, they went through all necessary precautions, the plaintiff didn’t actually suffer harm, or that the harm wasn’t a result of their actions.. As such, some of these cases may include where the plaintiff is awarded a partial amount of their requested compensation, as they were partially at fault, or when the defendant is awarded compensation when their fault is simply lesser than or equal to the defendant’s.. For example, in the case of the defendant’s animal biting and harming the plaintiff, they could argue that they were not aware that the animal was hostile or that the plaintiff exacerbated the situation.. In cases where the plaintiff claims the defendant’s product caused their injuries, the defendant may display how the plaintiff’s misuse of the product is actually what led to the damages.

Under tort law, you can file two common types of claims: intentional tort and negligence (unintentional tort). Here's everything you should know about intentional torts and negligence torts.

A tort is a harmful act that injures another person or their property.. Under tort law, you can file two common types of claims: intentional tort and unintentional tort.. Today we’ll talk about everything you should know about intentional torts and unintentional torts.. An intentional tort results from intentional acts that cause damage to other parties.. Injured parties will receive different damages, depending on the defendant’s actions and which personal injury tort they can file.. An intentional tort is when a party purposely causes injury to another person.. This is a willful and deliberate action when one person knows their action will result in physical injuries or other damages to someone else [].. Several actions are considered common intentional torts:. The person has to enter the land, either intentionally or not Defendant has to enter the land without the owner’s consent The landowner has to suffer damages Only a person with a legal right to the property can bring a trespass claim. For IIED to be brought as personal injury claims, there has to be outrageous conduct meant to cause emotional distress intentionally.. An unintentional tort is usually associated with negligence, and it means a person’s conduct falls under the expected standard of care for people around them.. “The person who caused the accident is considered negligent because they failed to exercise the same degree of care that a reasonable person would have in the same situation.” Investopedia. Damages for intentional torts are usually bigger than for negligence torts, and they include medical expenses, lost wages, personal property damages, pain and suffering.. To get damages for personal injuries in a negligence lawsuit, a person must show they suffered real harm.. No matter if you were hurt in an intentional or an unintentional tort, you can get damages for the other party’s harmful conduct.

A tort claim is a civil claim where a claimant has suffered damages due to the actions of the person who committed the act. In this type of claim, the person who committed the act can be held legally liable.

According to the legal definition given by Cornell Law School , a tort claim outlines an act that causes injury or harm to another party, amounting to a civil wrong that allows the courts to assign liability.. A tort is a civil claim where a claimant has suffered damages due to the actions of the person who committed the act.. Numerous personal injury and invasion of privacy offenses may result in a tort claim, including instances of assault and trespassing.. However, tort claims branch out from the basic tenets of traditional personal injury law, because they include more abstract wrongdoings like fraud, emotional abuse, and defamation of character.. This type of tort is the basis of traditional personal injury law, including motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, and slip and fall cases.. Enacted in 1946, the Federal Tort Claim Act is a legal means for individuals who get wrongfully injured to pursue legal action against an employee of the U.S. government who is at fault by negligent and wrongful acts.. A Federal Tort Claim Act is related to any civil case where the harm caused by civil wrongs results in personal injury to one individual and the victim of the tort seeks financial compensation for that harm.. A tort claim is any act that can harm the wellbeing of a person, by that means violating their rights and making the guilty party liable for their damages and sufferings.. Duty – Under the circumstances, the defendant owed a legal duty to the person who brings a case to the court of law; Breach – The defendant act or fail to act in a certain way that breaches that legal duty; Causation – It was the actions or inactions of the defendant that caused the injury to the plaintiff; and Damages – The defendant’s actions lead to injury or harm to the plaintiff.

Tort law has been called the law of wrongful injuries. It is the law that protects and compensates people who have been injured by the negligence, or

Tort law has been called the law of wrongful injuries.. And it is the law that protects and compensates people who are injured by unsafe or defective products.. Here, though, in tort law, we are concerned with injuries that are wrongful – they have wrongly harmed another person.. The wrongfulness should not necessarily be equated with fault, because tort law includes strict (non-fault) liability for harm from defective products and abnormally dangerous activities, even where defendant has committed no wrong and would not be deemed a "wrongdoer.". The plaintiff is the person who has been injured, and is the one who is suing.. First, for the injuries and losses suffered by the plaintiff as a result of the defendant.. Tort law is a civil case.. Not so in a tort case.

Find out what intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) is, how to prove IIED, common defenses to IIED claims, & how to find the right IIED attorney.

Intentional infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”) is a civil tort that is sometimes referred to as the “tort of outrage.” A person commits intentional infliction of emotional distress by carrying out an extreme and outrageous act against their victim.. To succeed in a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress, a plaintiff must prove the following three elements:. The defendant committed an extreme and outrageous act; The defendant acted intentionally or recklessly to cause severe emotional harm to another; and The defendant’s act caused the plaintiff to suffer severe emotional harm.. Intentional infliction of emotional distress is an act considered so terrible and outrageous that it causes severe harm to the victim.. To be considered valid, the victim must show that the act was outrageous, extreme, and intentionally caused them harm.. The defendant committed an extreme and outrageous act; The defendant acted intentionally or recklessly to cause severe emotional harm ; and The defendant’s actions caused the plaintiff to suffer severe emotional harm .. Proving Intent in an Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress Claim A successful IIED claim must also prove that an actor intended to inflict harm on the victim.. Examples of Evidence of Intent that Have Been Found to be Sufficient or Insufficient to Prove Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress In the case above, Johnson v. Woman’s Hospital, the mother proved that she had suffered serious emotional distress after the incident.. Still, she could not prove her IIED claim because she never showed proof that the harm was intentionally inflicted.. Proving That the Conduct Caused Severe Emotional Injury For the victim of IIED to recover damages, they must show that they suffered a severe emotional injury .. For instance, if the plaintiff was already experiencing distress and seeing a doctor before the incident, that fact may cause the jury to conclude that the event did not necessarily cause more harm.. As with state tort claims in general, there are certain instances in which an act will fulfill every element of intentional infliction of emotional distress, but still not succeed because of protections under the First Amendment .. It is important to note that the Supreme Court held that First Amendment protection is a valid defense to state tort claims such as intentional infliction of emotional distress, not that such claims are not actionable.. In those cases, the victim may be able to claim instead that the actor intentionally inflicted them with emotional distress with outrageous and extreme acts.. An incident of intentional emotional distress is a case in which a perpetrator committed outrageous and terrible acts that caused intentional emotional harm to the victim.

Fraudulent Misrepresentation under California Law- Examples, Cases, Definition, Elements. Super Lawyers Rated California Attorney. Free Consultations. (844) 4-TALKOV (825568).

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An enforceable contract is a contract that needs an offer and an acceptance.

Competent Parties An enforceable contract is a contract that needs an offer and an acceptance.. United States contract law provides that contracting parties have a right to commitment and enforceability.. Parties mutually assenting agreement and signatory of a contract, are obliged to adhere to the rules contract law, by performing as promised.. It must be evidenced that an arrangement valid to the construction of contracts be present to enforce the agreement according to U.S. federal contract law.. Where a party does not meet the legal qualification to contract, no agreement may be considered as a legitimate contract.. The Unconscionability refers to the disparity of the agreement due to differences in authority between the two parties, an inequity in election to form contract or an unreasonable bias or circumstance where one of the parties is illiterate or uneducated and was harmed by the said contract.. Instead of the usual process of protecting parties involved in the contract, the defenses of illegality and violation of public policy exists to secure public welfare and the honor of the courts by denying the enforcement of certain types of contracts .. An enforceable contract is a contract that needs an offer and an acceptance.


1. Common Intentional Torts: Part 2
2. Tort Law-Intentional Torts
(Ida M. Jones)
3. Episode 1.2: An Overview of Tort Law – Intentional Torts, Negligence, and Strict Liability
(Center for Innovation in Legal Education)
4. Chapter 4 - Intentional Torts and Torts Impacting Business
(Joao Molinari Junior)
5. Intentional Tort Law
(Liz Sattler)
6. What are Intentional Torts?
(The Business Professor)

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