Intentional Torts

Intentional torts as the name implies are intentional acts resulting in injury. Intentional torts consist of such claims as assault and battery, conversion, defamation, false imprisonment, fraud, malicious prosecution, invasion of privacy, trespass and the intentional infliction of emotional distress. All of these claims have specific elements that must be met and proved in order for a plaintiff to prevail.

Examples of Intentional Tort

A battery is simply an unwanted touching of one person by another. Conversion is the taking of a persons property without that persons consent. Defamation can come in either written (libel) or oral (slander) form and consists of making injurious statements about a person that are untrue. If those injurious statements involve moral turpitude, impute a contagious disease, impute unfitness to perform the duties of office or words that prejudice a person in his profession or trade then they may be referred to as being defamatory per se.

If the alleged statement is not defamatory per se, then the plaintiff may have to prove what are called special damages in order to recover against the defendant. Special damages would come in the form of out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of those defamatory statements. For instance, if you are a surgeon and I call you a butcher, that is a statement that is defamatory per se and therefore you could assert a defamation claim against me even though you may not have incurred any special damages; i.e. any out-of-pocket expense as a result of my making that statement.

If, on the other hand, you are unemployed and I call you a crook, and as a result of making that comment you incur so much emotional distress that you seek psychiatric help then you may likewise have a basis for a defamation claim against me. Even though the comment made is not defamatory per se, the fact that you have incurred medical expenses as a result of my making the comment about you satisfies the special damages requirement and therefore gives you the basis for a defamation claim against me.

Claims of false imprisonment and malicious prosecution arise in the context of a person improperly restraining another person or initiating a criminal prosecution which is subsequently found to be unjustified.

Fraud is the intentional misrepresentation of a material existing fact made for the purpose of inducing reliance and which in fact does induce reliance to the detriment or damage of the plaintiff. Fraud is a very difficult thing to prove. Unlike most civil claims which must be proven simply by a preponderance of the evidence or what is referred to as the greater weight of the evidence, fraud claims must be proven by clear and convincing evidence which is a much higher standard therefore making it much more difficult to prove. The reason for the higher standard of proof in regards to fraud claims is that the law recognizes that fraud is an offense that involves surreptitious behavior that may be subject to different interpretations. It is therefore felt that the plaintiff should have a more difficult burden of proof in regards to these types of claims than would apply in regards to the run of the mill tort claims that may be asserted.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

Intentional torts frequently involve bad actors who commit bad acts against good people. To level the playing field you need an experienced lawyer to be your advocate and defender. Brien Roche has over 35 years of trial experience and a proven track record. Contact Brien today if you require representation in Virginia, Washington DC or Maryland.