An intentional tort is an act committed purposely with the goal to cause harm. Unlike lawsuits based in negligence, which are accidental in nature, intentional torts require that a person intended to cause harm to the victim. Intentional torts can result in serious injury to the victim, and he or she is entitled to bring a personal injury lawsuit to obtain damages as a result.
There are a variety of different intentional torts and defenses that can be raised in a case. With the help of experienced personal injury attorney Quinn Posner of Quinn Posner Law Office, P.C., you can fight for the financial compensation you deserve.
What is Intent?
For a tort to be intentional, it means first that it is not accidental or negligent. More specifically, an intentional tort occurs when a person:
- Intended the physical results of his or her conduct, and
- Knew or should have known that the results were substantially certain to happen as a consequence of that conduct.
This means that the act itself must be intentional and that the act was intended to cause harm or it was so likely to cause harm that the person should have known that harm would occur.
Types of Intentional Torts
There are a wide variety of intentional torts, but the most common of these include the following.
- Battery: An intentional harmful or offensive contact with another person which causes an injury.
- Assault: An intentional act which places another person in apprehension of immediate harmful or offensive contact (also a form of attempted battery)
- False Imprisonment: Intentional and unlawful confinement of a person within a bounded area. An exception to this is the shopkeeper rule, which allows shopkeepers to detain suspected shoplifters long enough to determine if they stole anything or until police arrive.
- Tort of Outrage: An intentional or reckless act that causes emotional distress to another through some extreme or outrageous conduct.
- Defamation: An intentional false statement of fact about a person that caused harm to that person. There are two types of defamation: libel is written defamation and slander is defamation that is spoken.
- Fraud: An intentional misrepresentation of a material existing fact made to induce reliance causing harm to another person. Fraud claims bear a higher standard of proof than other intentional torts or negligence claims.
- Trespass: Committed when a person intentionally enters the land without permission or excuse. A trespass can be committed even if no actual harm occurred to the property or its owner.
- Conversion: An intentional act that deprives a person of some item of personal property or deprives another person of use of that personal property. A conversion is similar to or sometimes identical to a theft, but the term "theft" is used only for criminal prosecutions.
- Nuisance: A nuisance occurs when some intentional act denies another owner of land the right to "quiet enjoyment" of his or her property. This means that acts committed on your own land that unreasonably disturb neighbors may be considered a nuisance. (Example: Having a terribly smelly pigsty in your backyard in the middle of a suburban neighborhood.)
The specific facts of each case matter a great deal when determining which tort to sue for and what damages may be available. With the help of an experience Camas area attorney, your rights will be protected.
Defenses to Intentional Torts
A person accused of an intentional tort has certain defenses he or she can raise, including the following.
- Consent: The accused person argues that he or she had the plaintiff's permission to act in a certain way. Consent can be "express" (directly spoken or written permission) or "implied" (an assumed consent based on the surrounding circumstances).
- Defense of Self or Others: The accused person can state that he or she committed the intentional tort because it was to defend himself or another person from harm. The force used to defend yourself or another person must be reasonable in light of the circumstances.
- Defense of Property: A person may use reasonable force to defend property, but a person may never use deadly force to defend property.
- Necessity: The accused person argues that the act he or she committed was necessary and no other reasonable choice existed.
- Lack of Intent: The accused person can argue that the act was not committed with the required intent, and therefore his or her actions were instead accidental or negligent.
Damages in Intentional Tort Cases
If you, someone you care for, or your property has been damaged as the result of an intentional tort, you may be able to recover money damages in the form of
- Medical bills,
- Future medical bills,
- Damage to property,
- Loss of income,
- Loss of earning capacity,
- Pain and suffering, or
- Loss of consortium.
The state of Washington, unlike many other states, does not place caps on the amount of damages you can receive for your injuries. Washington's state courts have ruled that damage caps are unconstitutional.
Quinn Posner has won hundreds of thousands of dollars for his clients by filing personal injury cases against responsible parties.
Statute of Limitations
Intentional torts are generally subject to a two-year statute of limitations period, which is shorter than for actions based in negligence. There are certain exceptions to this general rule, and your personal injury attorney can help you know when your case must be filed.
Don't wait to approach an attorney. If the statute of limitations passes before you file a claim your case will be dismissed, even if you would otherwise be entitled to compensation.
Criminal Cases and Civil Cases
Most intentional torts are also a crime under Washington law. In many situations, the actions that gave rise to your personal injury lawsuit will also be the subject of a criminal case against the person who committed the intentional act.
If a criminal case is occurring, the civil case (the personal injury lawsuit) must wait until the criminal case has concluded. Once the case is finished, and if the accused person is found guilty, evidence used in the criminal case can be used against him or her in the civil case. This occurs through a legal doctrine known as "collateral estoppel." This saves you both time and money in having to prove that the intentional conduct occurred and was that accused person's fault.
Consult a Washington Personal Injury Attorney
If you have suffered injuries as the result of an intentional tort, you need an experienced attorney who understands the personal injury process and how to effectively prove that another person intentionally caused you harm.
Experienced personal injury attorney Quinn Posner represents clients in Camas, Washougal, Vancouver, and the rest of Clark County. Contact Quinn Posner today to schedule a free consultation.