Intentional Torts

An intentional tort is a deliberate action against a person or property that causes damage — whereas, a negligence tort is when the same action was the result of an accident. In a nutshell, the law can hold someone liable for injuries whether the person responsible intended to cause harm or not. However, an accidental tort requires that you, as the plaintiff, show proof of an injury or physical damage. An intentional tort does not have that requirement.

What Causes Intentional Tort?

If a tort is an accident, the cause of the incident could be negligence, products liability, strict liability, and informed consent actions. However, intentional torts — where plaintiff suffers harm due to the purposeful actions of the defendant — include assault, battery, trespass to chattels, trespass to property, conversion, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

An intentional tort must meet specific criteria for each type of tort. For example, for trespass to property to be a tort, it must consist of four elements: the intrusion or invasion on the property was unlawful, the intruder did it on purpose, the intruder entered the property by force, and the property owner suffered a consequent injury. Generally, if a person merely walks onto your property, that is not considered a tort.

However, if the court decides that the trespasser violated the possessory interest of the plaintiff, the person entered the property without implied or express consent. The trespass is intentional when the person entering the property knew that they would get charged with trespass for entering the property. The landowner would have to prove that the trespass was intentional or that the trespass caused harm to the property. An example of this would be releasing hazardous chemicals on someone else's property.

Affirmative Defenses to Intentional Torts

Intentional torts have affirmative defenses. The main ones include:

  • Consent
  • Self-defense
  • Defense of another person
  • Necessity

If the defendant says you gave consent, you may not be able to sue for the harm done to you. In the trespass example, if the defendant can prove you permitted them to be on your property with a four-wheeler, your claim to trespass may not hold up, even if the four-wheeler damaged your property.

Self-defense and defense of others are self-explanatory. In a nutshell, if you are a threat to someone and then try to sue that person because he or she shot you, you’ve got a weak claim if the defendant can prove that you initiated the threat.

Finally, necessity as a defense means the defendant’s presence on the property in question was required. For example, if your barn is burning down and the defendant enters your property to get to a source of water to put out the fire, damaging your property with a vehicle in the process, the defendant most likely will not be held liable for the damages. Of course, this assumes the defendant did not start the fire in the first place.

Contact an Intentional Torts Attorney

If you have suffered injury or your property has been damaged as a result of an intentional tort, contact Morgan & Morgan to schedule a free case evaluation. Our intentional torts attorneys fight for the rights of victims across the country. If we take your case, we’ll assign you an attorney and support staff who focus on providing the best service for your case. Thanks to our passion, reputation, and resources, you can’t find better results anywhere else. There’s only one Morgan & Morgan — join the family today.


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