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What Exactly Is an Intentional Tort?

  • November 23, 2018
What Exactly Is an Intentional Tort

How do you define intentional tort?

This is the most-common question we get as intentional tort attorneys. Lucky for us, a straightforward answer exists.

Understanding the meaning of the legal term “intentional tort” requires defining the two words in reverse order.

First, a “tort” is a legal wrong. The victim of a tort has the right to file insurance claims or to pursue a civil lawsuit to secure monetary compensation and damages from the person or company that committed the tort.

Examples of torts include, but are not limited to:

  • Physical injuries
  • Financial losses
  • Losses of or damage to property
  • Loss of reputation

The meaning of “intent” is obvious — the person or organization who caused harm meant to cause harm or continued to act in a harmful way while knowing that one or more people would suffer harm.

Putting those concepts together, it becomes clear that an intentional tort is a deliberate action that inflicts an injury or loss for which the victim of that injury or loss can demand compensation.

Examples of intentional acts that give victims grounds to file insurance claims or lawsuits are:

  • Fraud
  • Identity theft
  • Making and selling dangerous products
  • Defamation (i.e., libel, slander)
  • Physical assault

Note how most of the causes of intentional torts can also be prosecuted as criminal offenses. Victims can file charges and seek compensation at the same time. Evidence collected by police can be used to substantiate civil claims, but no arrest or conviction is required to substantiate an intentional tort claim.

Now, it is important to realize that an intentional tort case differs from a personal injury or wrongful death case. Injury and death cases arise from negligence or recklessness. The defendants allegedly failed to control themselves, failed to act to prevent harm or were so out of control or acting so heedlessly that someone was bound to get hurt.

The distinction between intent and negligence or recklessness matters greatly. Succeeding with an intentional tort claim requires showing that the defendant wanted to cause harm or knew harm would result. This significantly complicates the legal process, turning it almost into a criminal matter. The standard of proof of is lower — preponderance of evidence rather than beyond a reasonable doubt — but the lower standard can still be difficult to satisfy.

So, hiring an experienced Columbus, Ohio, intentional tort attorney is almost always necessary. If you suffered an injury or loss that did not result from a preventable accident, call Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman at 614-221-3318 to schedule a free consultation. You can also request an appointment by completing this online contact form.

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