Understanding Tort Law-Negligence vs Intent

The word “tort” has a specific meaning in the practice of law. A tort is defined as an act that causes harm to someone else. This harm may be physical or emotional. It may involve damage to property as well as fear, pain or suffering. Torts can also be classified in various ways, depending on the nature of the act that caused the injury. Torts are civil wrongs, meaning that the remedy for these wrongs is through a civil lawsuit judgment.

What Are The Types of Torts?

Torts can be divided into those caused by negligence and those caused by intent. Most torts involve careless actions on the part of one party and are therefore classified as negligence torts. In these cases, the perpetrator had no intent of harming anyone; he or she simply acted in a careless way that resulted in damage.

For example, most people who cause car accidents do not intend to crash with another vehicle, but their negligent behavior, whether speeding, texting or becoming distracted by activities outside the car, still causes serious consequences.

On the other hand, some torts are the result of intentional or malicious behavior. In those torts, the perpetrator set out with the intention of harming someone else. An example of this might be an evicted tenant who breaks the windows in a home because he or she is being evicted. There is no doubt that the tortfeasor, or the person who committed the tort, knew that the consequences of these actions would be harmful.

Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between an intentional and a negligent tort. For example, is a drunk driver simply being negligent or can such egregious behavior be considered an intentional tort? The line is sometimes blurred and must be resolved by a judge or jury in a civil lawsuit.

Intentional torts are often connected to clearly identifiable criminal activity. For example, someone who commits fraud obviously intended to take money from a victim. Slander, false imprisonment and wrongful death are examples of civil actions arising from intentional torts.

However, it is very important to distinguish between an intentional tort and a criminal action. The two can be the same, but not all crimes result in intentional torts, and not all torts are charged as crimes. More specifically, the intentional tort is the action, whether it is charged as a crime or not, that results in the loss for the victim.

What Should I Do If I Am The Victim of an Intentional Tort?

If you are the victim of criminal activity, you may wish to file a civil tort action against the wrongdoer. You can do this regardless of whether the tortfeasor is charged with a crime or not. In fact, the charging of someone with a crime is a completely separate process from the civil lawsuit that results from an action that causes injury or damage.

If you are the victim of a tort (negligent or intentional) and are unsure what to do, contact a personal injury attorney at David & Philpot, P.L. today. We will consult with you about your situation and advise you on what steps you should take to protect your rights and seek the compensation you deserve. There is no charge for the call. Call 800.360.7015 today. We are here to help!