Intentional Torts

An intentional tort is when a person intentionally acts (or fails to act) out of their own volition, which causes injury to another person. There are approximately seven (7) intentional torts that are recognized under Florida law. 

They include the following causes of action:

  • Assault: An intentional harmful or offensive contact made by the defendant. Such attempt at contact puts the plaintiff in a reasonable apprehension of immediate contact.
  • Battery: An intentional harmful or offensive contact made by the defendant. Such contact is made against the plaintiff and causes injury to the plaintiff.
  • Conversion: An intentional interference of the plaintiff’s rightful possession in personal property made by the defendant. The intentional interference is serious enough to warrant that defendant pay the full value of the chattel. 
  • False Imprisonment: An intentional act or omission to act made by the defendant that confines or retains the plaintiff to a bounded area.
  • Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress: Intentional or reckless extreme and outrageous conduct of the defendant that causes the plaintiff to suffer severe and emotional distress.
  • Trespass to Land: An intentional physical invasion of plaintiff’s land.
  • Trespass to Chattel: Intentional interference of plaintiff’s right of possession in personal property made by defendant that causes damage s from the loss of use.

Elements of an Intentional Tort

Four of the above causes of action result from harm to a person. Those include assault, battery, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Each of these causes of action have their own elements that a plaintiff must prove. Generally for intentional torts, a plaintiff must prove the following elements for an intentional tort cause of action:

  1. An action or inaction by the defendant: An “ act” refers to a voluntary move made by the defendant. For example, a person who collapses onto another person during a heart attack would not be legally responsible for an intentional tort because the act was not voluntary.
  2. Intent: The “intent” requires that the defendant’s objective was to cause the consequence of their action or inaction or knew with substantial certainty that it would cause certain consequences.
  3. Causation: The action or inaction must have caused or been a substantial factor of the plaintiff’s injury 

Statute of Limitations for Intentional Torts

Elements of an Intentional Tort

In Florida, there is a deadline for when a person may bring an intentional tort claim against another party. This time limit is referred to as the “statute of limitations.” The Florida statute of limitations for an intentional tort is four years.

That means an injury victim has four years from the date of their injury to file a lawsuit. If they fail to file a lawsuit by the deadline, they will not be able to recover damages.

Intentional Torts vs. Negligence

The tort of negligence is entirely dependent upon whether the defendant owes a legal duty to the plaintiff. Generally, everyone owes a standard duty of care to those around them. This standard duty is to act as a reasonable person under the same or similar circumstances.

 If a person breaches that duty, they may be responsible for the injuries caused to another. An intentional tort is entirely dependent on the intent behind a defendant’s harmful or offensive action or inaction.

Damages for Intentional Torts

Just like negligence claims, intentional torts claims can vary in their amount of damages. But unlike negligence claims, an intentional tort claim can include punitive damages. Punitive damages seek to punish the defendant for their wrongdoing and deter the defendant from doing any wrongdoing in the future. Plaintiffs filing an intentional tort claim can also seek compensation for their medical bills, lost profits, and pain and suffering

If you believe you have a claim against another party for an intentional tort, Contact our law office now to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Fort Walton Beach personal injury attorney to assist you.