Is Negligence an Intentional Tort?

Is Negligence an Intentional Tort?

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Is Negligence an Intentional Tort?

When one person commits a wrongful action against another, the victim can legally pursue financial recovery. Those responsible for causing harm may be required to provide compensation to the injured party.
One important element of successfully recovering compensation is understanding the type of legal action needed. This is especially true when considering the difference between negligence and an intentional tort.
A “tort” is a wrongful action that causes harm, injury, or loss to another. Torts do not need to result in physical damage to be considered wrongful actions. Tort law is a category of civil law.
Even if a person causes another financial harm, the responsible party has engaged in wrongful action. Those who have been harmed by others can seek monetary recovery to compensate for the damages.
Oftentimes, injury claims rely on the legal concept of “negligence.” But if someone has harmed you purposefully, you may wonder whether you can pursue a tort claim.
Many injury victims find themselves asking, “Is negligence an intentional tort?” Below, we will discuss many legal issues related to intentional harm and negligence.
If you have sustained damage because of another person’s actions, you deserve justice. No matter what the circumstances might be, contact the firm of Morgan & Morgan.
Our team of skilled tort attorneys will fight hard on your behalf. We will work tirelessly to recover the financial compensation that you need.
Fill out the simple contact form on the Morgan & Morgan website to schedule a no-risk legal consultation today.

Is Negligence an Intentional Tort?

Is negligence an intentional tort? There are two primary types of tort claims: intentional wrongs and negligence torts.
Both types of wrongful actions can result in the victim filing a civil claim. 
As the name suggests, intentional torts are wrongful actions done purposefully. Negligence, however, does not require the intent to harm.
To understand the difference better, consider the following two scenarios:

An Intentional Tort Example

Imagine you are sitting at a dinner table with your neighbor having a discussion. Suddenly, the conversation becomes heated because of a disagreement. 
Suppose that emotions begin to run high and your neighbor throws a drinking glass at you. The glass collides with you and causes a cut on your arm.
In this scenario, your neighbor has committed an intentional wrongful action. It is likely that this action would be classified as the intentional tort of battery.

A Negligent Tort Example

Imagine the same scenario: You are having an argument with a neighbor at a dinner table. 
This time, suppose that your neighbor becomes so angry that they smash a drinking glass against the table. When this happens, a shard of glass flies up and cuts your eye.
In this scenario, the neighbor has engaged in a wrongful action that has caused you harm. However, the neighbor did not intend to cause you harm.
Still, the damage to your eye was the result of your neighbor’s reckless behavior. This is an example of a tort caused by negligence.
So is negligence an intentional tort? No. Negligence and intentionally performed wrongful actions are legally distinct.
Understanding the difference between negligence and intentional torts is vital when you’re pursuing a legal claim. A skilled attorney can examine the facts of your case to help you determine how to categorize your claim.
When you are wondering, “Is negligence an intentional tort,” reach out to the experts at Morgan & Morgan. We will happily answer any questions regarding your case and your best legal prospects.

Pursuing a Negligence Tort Claim

Oftentimes, personal injury claims are based on proving that the other party behaved in a negligent manner. The victim does not need to show that the liable party acted intentionally — only that their careless behavior caused harm.
Legally, behaving negligently means that your behavior fell below a reasonable standard of safety or care. The main distinction between negligence and an intentional tort is the person's state of mind.
When someone behaves in a careless or reckless manner, they can be held accountable for any harm that they cause. This is true even if they did not mean to cause damage to the victim.
There are four primary elements to a negligence tort case. When filing a negligence lawsuit, the plaintiff needs to prove the following four factors:

Duty of Care

The plaintiff will need to prove that the defendant had a duty of care to behave in a reasonably safe way. This duty of care is constituted by different types of behavior in different cases.
Car accident cases are one of the most common types of negligence claims. When someone is operating a motor vehicle, they have a duty of care to other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.
In other words, motorists have the duty to drive in a legal and safe manner. This duty is an implicit part of operating a vehicle on the road.

Breach of Duty

For a successful negligence lawsuit, the claimant also needs to prove that the defendant breached their duty of care. A person breaches their duty of care when they fail to behave in a reasonably safe way.
A breach of duty can either be an action or a failure to act. The plaintiff needs to prove that the defendant's behavior was not compatible with a reasonable standard of care.
For example, medical malpractice cases often involve negligence. If a physician offers a misdiagnosis based on insufficient evidence, they have breached the duty of care that they owe to their patient. In cases like these, they may be held accountable for medical negligence.


The plaintiff also needs to prove that the defendant’s negligent action was the direct or proximate cause of the harm that they suffered. In other words, if the negligent person had acted differently, the victim would not have been harmed.
If a medical patient was misdiagnosed by their doctor and injured in a car crash the next day, their harm was not caused by the physician's breach of duty. The careless action and the damage to the victim must be causally related.

Actual Damage

If the claimant has not suffered any actual damage, they will not have a valid negligence claim. The defendant's actions must have resulted in actual harm to the plaintiff.
Consider the following example. Suppose that a physician misdiagnosed a patient as having the flu when they actually had a seasonal cold.
If the doctor recommended the same treatment plan that they would have with a correct diagnosis, no actual damage occurred. 
All four of these factors must be proven in a successful negligence lawsuit. As you can see, none of these revolve around the defendant’s intentions.

If your injury makes you wonder “is negligence an intentional tort,” consider the mindset of the liable party. A legal professional can help you understand whether your injury claim is a case of negligence or an intentional tort.

Pursuing an Intentional Tort Claim

Intentional tort claims are only relevant when the liable party meant to cause damage. Different states recognize distinct wrongful actions as intentional torts.
Some of the most common examples of intentional torts include:

  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Involuntary conversion of property­ (also called “theft”)
  • Trespassing on private land
  • Trespassing by using another’s property
  • False imprisonment and unlawful restraint

These are only a few examples of intentional torts. Speak with a legal expert at Morgan & Morgan to examine the intentional tort statutes in your area.

Damages Available to Tort Victims

“Damages” is the legal term for payments made to the victims of wrongful actions. Damages are awarded in the context of a civil trial or proceeding.
Tort cases are very different from criminal trials. In most cases, civil trials are not intended to punish the party responsible for causing harm.
Instead, tort lawsuits and trials are meant to compensate the victim for the losses they sustained. Intentional torts and negligence cases usually result in different amounts of damages.
Damages for victims of intentional torts are often more generous than in negligence cases. However, recovering compensation for an intentional tort requires the plaintiff to prove wrongful intent.
Some of the most common examples of damages in tort cases include:

  • Current and future medical expenses
  • The cost of replacing or repairing damaged property
  • Lost wages from missed work
  • Permanent or long-term decrease in earning capacity
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish including depression, anxiety, and panic
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Loss of consortium or relationship
  • And more

If you were the victim of another person's wrongful actions, consult with a legal professional as soon as possible. Rather than spending hours searching “is negligence and intentional tort” online, reach out to America’s leading injury law firm.
The accomplished team at Morgan & Morgan has years of experience handling both negligence and intentional tort cases. We will fight hard in your best interests and work to recover maximum compensation in your personal injury case.

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