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The Role of Intentional Torts in Personal Injury Cases


If you've been injured due to the deliberate actions of another person, you may have heard the term "intentional torts" used. This term refers to an important factor in personal injury cases when the injured person wasn't injured in an accident, but rather because of another person's behaviors. An intentional tort can cause physical or emotional harm, or be used to injure the victim's reputation.

Intentional torts can be direct, such as someone punching the victim in the face. Despite the name, however, the intention doesn't have to be to harm. An intentional tort is simply an intentional action, called a "tort," which causes injury. If someone surprises a victim with a heart condition, and as a result, the victim has a heart attack, the surprise would be considered an intentional tort.

Types of Intentional Torts

There are many types of intentional torts, which may be the basis of a personal injury claim. Generally, intentional torts for personal injury cases are limited to specific types of torts, as covered below.


Battery is the legal term for hitting someone with your body or an object. This tort covers a surprising range of activities, from slapping someone, to inappropriate touching, to shooting someone with a firearm. Harmful contact with the plaintiff is the basis of a personal injury case involving battery.


While commonly grouped with battery, assault is a separate tort. Assault simply involves the action of threatening someone with a physically harmful action or attempting, but failing to carry out, battery.

False Imprisonment

Technically, false imprisonment is considered to be confinement without legal authority. If someone restricts the plaintiff's movement against the plaintiff's will, they may bring a civil case against the guilty party. The exceptions to these laws are law enforcement offices and shopkeepers, who generally may detain someone who has been suspected of shoplifting until law enforcement can arrive.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

A difficult tort to prove, the intentional infliction of emotional distress occurs when someone behaves in a way that is perceived as threatening or frightening, with the intent of causing severe emotional distress.


The legal term for lying to someone, fraud cases can occur in a number of situations. The plaintiff must prove that the speaker knew their words were false, that the speaker knew someone would believe them, the other person would rely on that information, and be injured due to this reliance.


This tort means that someone took deliberate steps to say something false about the plaintiff with the intention of causing harm. This tort includes written words (libel) and spoken words (slander).

Invasion of Privacy

The exact definition of invasion of privacy varies from state to state, but it is generally considered that there are 4 types of invasion of privacy:

  • Invasion of Solitude: Someone interferes with another person's right to be left alone.
  • Public Disclosure of Private Facts: Someone publicly announces or shares private details of another person's life.
  • False Light: Someone publishes untrue, but not defamatory, facts about someone else.
  • Appropriation: Someone uses another person's likeness without authorization.


There are two forms of this tort. The first is to trespass on land, while the second is to trespass on chattel, or belongings. Either form involves the use of another person's property without permission.


This term is the non-criminal law term for stealing. A person takes another person's belongings and "converts" them to their own.

How Do Intentional Torts Affect My Personal Injury Case?

Many intentional torts have criminal counterparts, which can be addressed in criminal court. Intentional torts are the civil court versions of these crimes, which allows an injured party to pursue financial compensation for their injury or damages due to the intentional behavior of another. It may be possible to file an intentional tort case in addition to the criminal charges a person may be facing.

Let Our Columbia Personal Injury Attorney Help - (803) 938-4952

If you have been injured by someone's intentional actions, you may be able to pursue a civil injury case against them. Our Columbia personal injury lawyer can help you fight for justice and ensure that you receive the maximum compensation available. At Masella Law Firm, P.A., we are dedicated to standing up for injured victims, backed by more than 29 years of legal experience.

Schedule an initial consultation today. Contact our team today by dialing (803) 938-4952.

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