What Are The 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 that people contact an intentional torts attorney for are battery, assault and trespass to property. If you have been the victim of these common torts, please use this form to contact a 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 you are a weightlifter and a smaller man decides to punch your arm, the punch is still a harmful or offensive action even though you didn’t suffer any injury from the punch.


Assault is when the defendant creates immediate apprehension of an offensive or harmful touching. You often hear the terms assault and battery used together or used to mean the same. However, that’s not true. An example of assault is throwing a punch and missing the target – the defendant is creating the expectation of harm. If the punch connected, 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 he or she isn’t 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.

False Imprisonment

When you are falsely imprisoned, you are held against your will by force, the threat of force or are illegally held by the 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

Trespass to chattels is 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 running up and touching the person’s property. Neither is substantially using the person’s property. However, damage to the property is interference.


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 when the defendant steals your car, jams the gas pedal and runs it off a cliff. The plaintiff could have gotten market value before the vehicle was taken but not after it was taken – and the defendant will take 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. 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 only pay us if we win. More than 100,000 clients trust us nationwide, and we’ve recovered billions on their behalf – join the Morgan & Morgan family today and schedule a free case evaluation.

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