As its name suggests, an intentional tort is one that arises from an intentional act. The key element here is the fact that the act was done on purpose. For example, if you strike someone in the face, that was an act of intent. A car accident where the driver behind you was distracted and rear-ended you is negligence. A car accident with a driver who rams your vehicle on purpose is an intentional act.
A person who injured you is still responsible whether they were negligent or acted intentionally, but in some cases, intentional torts are criminal acts with greater penalties. Here are some of the more common intentional torts you’ll encounter in personal injury matters.
Defamation takes two forms — slander and libel. Verbal defamation is slander and written defamation is libel. To be classified as defamation, someone has to make untrue statements about another person. These statements must be publicized to a third party and be considered harmful. The plaintiff must have suffered harm to their reputation and has to prove their damages. Because defamation is hard to prove, it’s not an easy cause of action to litigate.
Fraud is the intentional act of deceiving another person. There are two types of fraud — criminal and civil. Fraud centers around a purposeful misrepresentation of fact, and the main difference between the two types is based on who is bringing the action. If another person is bringing the action, it’s a civil matter. If it is a government agency, it can be criminal. The person bringing the case needs to prove that the Defendant misrepresented some fact, the Defendant knew his or her statement was false, and made the misrepresentation with the purpose of getting the plaintiff to rely on the falsehood. In addition, there needs to be proof of damages.
Assault and Battery
Most people equate assault and battery with criminal matters only, but they can also be civil causes of action. In a civil case, they are treated as two separate charges. Assault is the threat of being attacked whereas battery is the physical act of unwanted touching.
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
Also referred to as the “tort of outrage,” intentional infliction of emotional distress is a challenging one to prove. The Defendant’s conduct has to be egregious and be treated as atrocious in a civilized community, there must be demonstrated proof of emotional distress, and the distress must have been so severe that no “reasonable person” would be expected to suffer through it.
Another intentional tort is malicious prosecution, which involves intentionally bringing a lawsuit, either criminal or civil, that has no probable cause and with malicious intent. The case must be resolved in favor of the plaintiff, as with a dismissal by the court.
Retaining a South Carolina Personal Injury Attorney
There are some matters, including intentional torts, that may warrant an award for punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded in cases where the jury found the defendant’s conduct to be malicious or egregious. If you plan to pursue an intentional tort lawsuit, you need a skilled South Carolina personal injury lawyer who is an aggressive negotiator and understands the complexities of intentional torts. Contact the attorneys at Elrod Pope Law Firm today to schedule a consultation and let one of our experienced attorneys help you get the compensation you deserve.
Thomas E. Pope is a Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, and Medical Malpractice Attorney who practices in Rock Hill, Lake Wylie, and Lancaster, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 31 years now. Thomas E. Pope believes in protecting the injured. Learn more about his experience here.