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Intentional TortsAssault, Battery, and other Intentional Actions

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Battery, Assault & Intentional Torts

Most personal injury cases generally involve an accident due to negligence. However, assault, battery, threats, and similar incidents are considered intentional torts in that they are intentional actions meant to cause harm or suffering to another person. Also unlike most personal injury cases, an intentional tort lawsuit can be handled as either as a civil lawsuit, criminal lawsuit, or both. If you’ve suffered from an intentional tort, contact an assault lawyer today.

Common Types of Intentional Tort Lawsuits:

Assault– Any action made by the antagonist (the person who attacks the victim) that creates a threat in which the victim reasonably fears an immediate harmful or offensive contact.

Battery– If the antagonist’s actions do cause actual harmful or offensive contact with the victim.

False imprisonment – Any action where the antagonist forcibly detains the victim or restricts the victim’s freedom to move. These actions can be physical, but can also include threats. A false arrest is a form of false imprisonment. False arrest is any unwarranted detention of an individual. False imprisonment and false arrest are not limited to authority figures, such as police, and can be committed by private citizens as well.

Conversion– Any action where the antagonist exercises dominion and control over the victim’s property without consent to do so from the victim. Even if the property is returned to the victim, the antagonist is still liable for conversion.

An intentional affliction of emotional distress – Intentional affliction of emotional distress is defined as an extreme or outrageous conduct that intentionally or recklessly causes emotional distress to the victim. Extreme or outrageous conduct is generally defined as being beyond all possible grounds of decency. The definition is not clearly defined and is subjectively decided case-by-case.

Fraud/deceit– Intentional misrepresentation, misstatements, lies, cons, or scams that cause harm to the victim.

Trespass– Any action made by the antagonist that intentionally interferes with the victim’s ownership of property, or any time the antagonist enters the victim’s premises without consent. See premises liability for more information.

Defamation– Any false statement or declaration made by the antagonist about the victim which is presented to at least one other person as being factual and objective. The antagonist must know that the statement or declaration is untrue, or at least made no attempt to investigate the validity of the information before presenting it. In some cases, the victim must prove that the false statement caused them at least some level of harm.

Proving the Defendant’s “Intent”

In order to qualify as an “intentional” tort case, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant intended to act in a way that would lead to the plaintiff’s harm or suffering. The plaintiff does not have to prove that the defendant’s actions were directly intended to cause harm or suffering to the plaintiff, only that those actions resulted in the plaintiff’s harm or suffering. If the results of the defendant’s actions were not substantially certain to cause harm or suffering, the actions are considered reckless or negligent and an assault lawyer could be necessary.

What is Transferred Intent?

 When the antagonist intends to cause harm or suffering to someone, but their actions result in hurting someone else, the intent is transferred from the targeted victim over to the victim who suffered harm.

Ex. Person 1 throws a rock intended to hit Person 2. The rock misses Person 2 & hits Person 3 in the head. The intent is transferred from the intended target – Person 2 – and moves to the victim – Person 3.

 What is a Vicarious Liability?

In some cases, an authority figure may share some or all liability for an individual’s actions. This authority figure could be a parent, an employer, or any person that is responsible for the antagonist. Generally, the antagonist must be working for/under the supervision of the authority figure for that authority figure to hold any level of liability for the antagonist’s actions. The authority figure should have been able to prevent or mitigate the situation but failed to do so, for them to be held liable.

Proving Intentional Tort & Negligent Tort

In order to prove that the defendant has committed an intentional tort, you must first establish these elements:

  • The individual committed the intentional physical, verbal, emotional contact of, or force to, your body or property.
  • This contact was perceived as harmful, unwanted, or offensive, and
  • You, the victim, did not consent to the contact.

In order to prove that the defendant has committed a negligent tort, you must first establish these elements:

  • The individual committed an act of physical, verbal, emotional contact with, or force to, your body or property.
  • This act was not necessarily intended to affect you.
  • This contact was perceived as harmful, unwanted, or offensive, and
  • You, the victim, did not consent to the contact.

What is a Negligent Tort?

 Think of negligent torts in terms of all non-intentional tort personal injury cases. A negligent tort is essentially an accident. The defendant’s actions caused you harm, but they did not premeditate this harm or intend for it to happen.

As you may have noticed in the previous section, the one key factor that separates intentional torts from negligent torts is that intentional torts are meant to cause harm, negligent is not. If you have any questions about the difference, contact an assault lawyer.

What is the Difference between Assault and Battery?

Assault and battery are two separate and distinct types of intentional tort cases. In either case, the intent of the antagonist does not have to be to harm the victim, but rather just to carry out the act that eventually results in harm. So, if the antagonist makes an idle threat to a third party, but the victim gets word of the threat and rationally perceives it as real, then the antagonist could potentially be guilty of committing assault. If the antagonist touches the victim without force, but the victim rationally perceives the touch as inappropriate or harmful, then the antagonist could potentially be guilty of committing battery.

Assault does not necessarily mean that the antagonist makes contact with the victim. Assault includes any intentional attempt or threat of future infliction of injury to the victim that causes the victim to rationally fear for their well-being.

A battery is the intentional physical contact with the victim by the antagonist. The contact must be harmful or offensive in some way. The victim must not have consented to the contact.

If you believe you have experienced either, contact an assault lawyer today.

Self-Defense as a Defense to an Intentional Tort

If you perceive another person’s actions as potentially threatening to your well-being or another person’s well-being, there are certain situations in which you can use self-defense to mitigate the situation.

In order to claim self-defense, all other avenues to mitigation must have been unavailable.

For example: Say that your neighbor has continually become more aggressive with you over the past few weeks because of a property dispute. You have asked him to leave you alone and even said that you will contact the police if he does not. Finally, your neighbor verbally threatens you, even invading your personal space and yelling at you. You perceive this threat as legitimate, so you punch your neighbor in the face. This leads to an altercation where police presence is necessary to end the conflict. You claim self-defense. You threw the punch because you perceived the threat as real.

This IS NOT a legitimate claim to self-defense. You had another avenue to mitigate the situation. You could have contacted the police and reported the assault (threat). Rather, you chose to commit battery. Your claim to self-defense will most likely not hold up in a court of law.

Another example: You are walking downtown at night. A man comes out of a bar. He is drunk. He is noticeably aggravated. The drunk man bumps into you, then begins shoving and pushing you. He threatens you with violence and seems to be intent on attacking you. He shoves you again and then cocks back to punch you. You strike him first.

You would have a legitimate claim to self-defense. In that period of time, you perceived a threat as real and there were no other avenues to mitigate the situation. Your claim to self-defense will most likely hold up in a court of law.

Hiring an Assault Lawyer

If you or someone that you know has been harmed or injured as a result of any of the previously mentioned types of intentional torts, or any other intentional acts that have caused harm, you should contact an assault lawyer right away. An assault lawyer on our personal injury team can help you receive compensation for your injuries. Not only that, we will fight to make sure that the defendant is held responsible and punished for their actions so that similar incidents are never repeated.

If you believe you have an intentional tort claim, contact a TorHoerman Law assault lawyer for a free no-obligation intentional tort case evaluation today.

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