Most Common Intentional Torts
Under tort law, seven intentional torts exist. Four of them are personal: assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and false imprisonment. The other three are trespass to chattels, trespass to property, and conversion. 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.
Battery is when someone intentionally touches you. This includes poisoning food or throwing something at the plaintiff, which doesn’t require physical touching. Because battery is an intentional tort, no harm needs to be done. For example, if someone punches you, that is considered a harmful or offensive action even if you didn’t suffer any injury from it.
Assault is when someone creates immediate apprehension of an offensive or harmful touching. You often hear the terms "assault" and "battery" used together or assumed to have the same meaning. However, they have different definitions. An example of assault is throwing a punch and missing the target — the assailant is creating the expectation of harm. If the punch connects, the law considers that situation to be battery.
Trespass to Land
Trespass to land is when someone invades your property and things attached to your land, including buildings, trees, improvements, and fixtures. Even putting a foot on your property is trespass if the defendant knows they're not supposed to be on the property and goes on it anyway. As with other intentional torts, the defendant does not have to damage the property to be sued for trespass.
When you are falsely imprisoned, you are held against your will by force, the threat of force or are illegally held by authorities. An example of false imprisonment includes pointing a gun at someone and saying, “If you move, I’ll shoot.” Locking someone in a room and providing no means of exit is also false imprisonment.
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
This tort is often referred to as “outrage.” The behavior of the defendant is so crazy that it causes you emotional distress. For this to be tortious, the behavior must be outrageous, such as telling someone a loved one is dead when that person is actually alive and well. The mental distress must also be severe. While physical effects are not required, it is helpful in proving the severity of the emotional distress. Types of physical effects might include tooth-grinding damage or cardiac issues. This is the only tort where intent is not required and recklessness is enough.
Trespass to Chattels
Chattels are anything that is movable, such as a car, computer, animal, or clothing. If it’s not real property, it’s chattel. The tort requires that the defendant “substantially interferes” with the plaintiff’s chattel. Interfering is not just touching the person’s property. Neither is substantially using it. However, damage to the property is interference and considered trespass to chattel.
Conversion is interfering with chattel so severely that the interference forces the plaintiff to sell the chattel to the defendant. An example of conversion is stealing your car, jamming the gas pedal, and running it off a cliff. The plaintiff could have gotten market value before the vehicle was taken but not afterward — and the defendant takes title to the wreck.
Contact an Intentional Torts Attorney
Intentional torts are serious. If you are the victim of an intentional tort, it’s important to contact Morgan & Morgan. If we move forward with your case, we’ll assign you a team of lawyers and legal professionals who focus on these cases to help navigate your claim from start to finish. We never charge by the hour, meaning you pay us only if we win. More than 100,000 clients trust us nationwide, and we’ve recovered billions on their behalf. Fill out a free case evaluation and join the Morgan & Morgan family today.
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