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Intentional Tort

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Intentional Tort

An intentional tort occurs when one person intentionally causes harm to another. For example, causing a car accident while intoxicated is distinct from purposely running a motorcyclist off the road in a fit of “road rage.” The damage may be tangible, although this is not always the case. 

What Is the Definition of a “Tort”?

A tort is any wrongdoing (other than a breach of contract) for which the law grants the victim the right to receive monetary compensation.

What Does “Intentional” Mean?

Even if you did not intend the result, you may be responsible for an intentional tort if you committed the act willfully. As an example of planning an action without meaning harm, one could shove someone off a bridge as a joke. Even though they did not intend to cause the person any harm, they still committed the act of their own volition.

Torts That Involve Intentional Physical Injury

Virtually any intentional act of wrongdoing that results in physical harm qualifies as an intentional tort. Here are the three most prevalent examples.

Wrongful Death

If you perform an intentional act of wrongdoing that results in the death of another person, and if the death was foreseeable, you could be held accountable for wrongful death. Some wrongful deaths are intentional torts, but not all of them are. For example, a DUI accident may still give rise to a wrongful death claim, but it may not be an intentional tort (depending on the facts). 


When you willfully place the victim in fear of immediate physical danger, you commit the tort of assault. In most cases, pointing a gun at someone’s face constitutes assault. Nevertheless, pointing a gun towards the back of someone’s head does not constitute assault if the victim was unaware that a pistol was being directed at them. Even though the victim was never in danger, it is nevertheless possible to commit assault by pointing an unloaded firearm at someone.


If aiming a gun at a person’s face constitutes assault, then pulling the trigger constitutes battery (or potentially wrongful death). Assault may be committed by cocking one’s fist at a person, whereas battery is committed by striking them. 

It is a battery to shoot someone from behind, but it is assault only if the victim was aware of the threat beforehand. Depending on the circumstances, a victim is permitted to sue a defendant for both assault and battery. Assault and battery are also considered criminal acts.

Intentional Torts Without Physical Injury

Not all intentional wrongdoings result in bodily harm. The following are examples of intentional torts that do not involve physical harm:


Defamation entails reputational harm caused by a false charge, such as slander or libel. Even though it is not physical harm, this tort generates a personal injury claim. It is fraudulent to tell a lie that causes someone harm because people believe it. It is a tort even if no financial loss occurs.


There are two sorts of trespassing: trespass to land and trespass to chattels (personal property). Using someone else’s car without permission and intending to return it is trespassing to chattels.


Conversion encompasses both intentional theft and the accidental appropriation of someone else’s personal property. If the thief knew the object was not his or hers, he or she may have committed a crime. Otherwise, conversion is merely an intentional tort. 

False Imprisonment

False imprisonment is the act of locking someone in a bounded area, such as a room or a closet. This offense can be committed by anyone, not just by law enforcement officers.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress 

A cruel prank that causes someone to suffer extreme emotional distress could also qualify under this category of intentional torts.

The Burden of Proof Obligation: A Crucial Distinction Between a Crime and a Tort

Sometimes people win acquittals in criminal court but then lose lawsuits over the same conduct. In the 1990s, for instance, NFL legend O.J. Simpson was acquitted of murder and then held accountable for the wrongful death of the same two individuals. The disparity in the burden of proof between a criminal trial and a civil suit was almost certainly the cause of these disparate outcomes.

The Burden of Proof in a Criminal Case

The burden of proof specifies who is accountable for proving a claim and how much evidence they must give. In a criminal trial, for instance, the burden of proof falls on the prosecutor. They must establish the guilt of the defendant “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This is a demanding requirement.

The Burden of Proof in a Civil Suit

In a civil case, the burden of proof falls on the plaintiff (the party making the accusation). For most claims, plaintiffs must establish their case by a “preponderance of the evidence.” Overall, the plaintiff’s proof must outweigh the defense’s evidence, even if only somewhat. “Preponderance of the evidence” is a far less stringent obligation than “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Consult an Experienced Miami Personal Injury Attorney

You may have an intentional tort claim if someone else’s intentional behavior injured you. You will probably need a skilled Miami injury attorney from Shaked Law Personal Injury Lawyers, to help you obtain compensation for such a claim. Contact our law office for a free initial consultation by calling (305) 937-0191.