Intentional Torts Through Civil CourtsCoastal Legal Center
Although most intention torts go through the criminal courts because it was done with intent to harm another person, some intentional torts, depending on the circumstance, can end with a personal injury claim in a civil court. The types of intentional damages that can be done are not only property or physical damages, but it also includes value diminutions and damage to someone’s reputation. How is an intentional tort defined through the criminal justice system? This article will speak about that.
How to differentiate Intent vs. Negligence
Torts derive from negligence, but intentional torts consist of an intent to do damage, which torts do not. Negligent derived torts have no association with intent. They were caused without the idea of harming someone. Unlike intentional torts, that were premeditated to cause harm. The state of mind of the person who caused the damages is what defines if it is classified as an intention tort, or just a “regular” tort.
For example, a slip and fall accident on a slippery surface just occurred, let me emphasize the word ‘accident’, meaning it wasn’t intentionally done. The parties responsible for making sure the premises were in safe conditions, neglected to do so, they breached their duty in maintaining it safe, which led to the person’s slip and fall injuries. This example has all the elements requiring it to be a tort. With the same example in mind, if someone poured water or oil to cause that slippery surface for the person to fall, then they have just committed battery, which is an intentional tort.
The difference between the two is very distinctive, but making sure it is distinguished is especially important for those who have undergone an intentional tort. The defendant can avoid liability if they prove that they never intended to cause the harm, in contrast to a regular tort case where it doesn’t take intent into account.
Different forms of Intentional Torts
Intentional torts take many different shapes. Here are some of those:
- Assault: Even if a person is not harmed, it is when a person is placed in apprehension of harm. If the other person feels threatened, then it is assault such as, raising of arms as if they are going to punch, but don’t punch the person.
- Fraud: When someone wants to benefit either personally or in regards to the damage of somebody else’s property in an intentional way.
- Battery: Like assault, but it is the actual act of doing a harm. This time the person would punch the other person.
- Slander: Verbal statements that serve the purpose in damaging a person’s reputation.
- False Imprisonment: Restriction of a person’s freedom on purpose.
- Libel: Written statements that serve the purpose in damaging a person’s reputation
- Wrongful death(sometimes): When a family member claims the death of their loved one was intentionally done or negligently done.
Wrongful death, battery, and assault are civil acts, but can be even tried as a criminal offense in some jurisdictions.
How to differentiate Crimes vs. Torts
Civil and Criminal trials face different adversities and specifications. But what happens when someone is charged both civilly and criminally? Some crimes can fall under as a tort, although most torts end up civilly tried. In a civil suit, it is an individual seeking compensation by another individual, or company that caused them harmed. In civil courts, it is all about the monetary gain. While in a criminal court, the lawsuit is often brought by the government against the person. The purpose of criminal trial is to provide justice and a safe environment for other citizens.
The act of committing “battery” is a perfect example because by law, battery is considered a crime. If the offender was found to have performed this act, then they can be criminally penalized, as well as civilly by those who suffered from the offender’s action.
Here is a case where a person was tried both criminally and civilly:
A self-proclaimed self-help guru named James Arthur Ray was criminally charged for the death of three people during a “Spiritual Warrior” sweat lodge ceremony due to extreme exposure to heat in Arizona. James was charged with three negligent homicides and sentenced to two years in jail. It was a form of negligence because as the host of the ceremony, James was accountable in keeping the participants safe from danger. James Arthur Ray was also civilly charged for negligent acts and wrongful death by the victim’s families. He was found to be liable and the lawsuit was settled for over $3 million for the victim’s families who suffered a loss, and for those injured during the sweat lodge ceremony. Speak with a personal injury attorney in Miami for more information.