Most personal injury claims arise due to negligence. In other words, most personal injury victims are harmed on accident. But sometimes, the harm isn’t an accident. In some cases, harm is intentionally caused. Tort law differentiates between negligent and intentional acts, but in either case, a victim is entitled to compensation for their harm. If you have been harmed by the intentional wrongful conduct of someone else, it is imperative to discuss your case with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Joel Williams Law, LLC, is dedicated to getting personal injury victims throughout the State of Georgia the compensation they deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation by calling (404) 389-1035.
Types of Intentional Torts
The essence of an intentional tort is that the actor intended for the harm to occur. While not all of these intentional torts cause personal injury, they are all actionable. The main intentional torts recognized in Georgia are:
- Battery. When it comes to personal injuries, battery is by far the most significant intentional tort. Battery is defined as intentionally causing offensive or harmful contact with someone else.
- Assault. An assault occurs when the defendant acts intentionally to cause a victim’s reasonable apprehension of an immediate harmful or offensive contact.
- False imprisonment. This is the unlawful, intentional confinement or restraint of a victim within some bounded area. If a false imprisonment causes physical injury, the defendant must compensate the victim.
- Trespassing. Unauthorized entry onto land.
- Conversion. The theft or damage of property such that it is no longer usable.
- Defamation. Intentional infliction of emotional distress.
If a person is harmed by outrageous conduct, they may be able to claim intentional infliction of emotional distress. Georgia has traditionally followed the “impact rule”, which holds that a person can only attain damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress if they have suffered a personal injury.
Proving an Intentional Tort
The central element of an intentional tort is intent. A defendant must be proven beyond a preponderance of the evidence to have intended the harm. Recklessness and carelessness are not the same as intent. However, intent can be inferred based on the circumstances. Whether wrongful conduct is better characterized as an intentional tort or negligence is sometimes hard to say.
Victims of intentional torts are often awarded punitive damages. These are a special type of damages primarily intended to punish the defendant.
Under Title 51 Chapter 12 Section 5.1 of the Georgia Code:
“Punitive damages may be awarded only in such tort actions in which it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s actions showed willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or that entire want of care which would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences . . . Punitive damages shall be awarded not as compensation to a plaintiff but solely to punish, penalize, or deter a defendant.”
Some Practical Differences Between Negligence and Intentional Tort Claims
Personal injury victims should consult with an attorney before bringing an intentional tort claim. Proving intent is not always easy, and in some cases even if a victim thinks they were harmed on purpose, it may make more sense to bring a negligence claim instead. Another thing to consider is that a defendant’s insurance policy may not pay out if they are found to have committed an intentional tort. Thankfully, in Georgia, it is possible for a plaintiff to bring an intentional tort and a negligence claim together when they file suit.
About the Author:
The experienced personal injury attorneys at Joel Williams Law, LLC, are committed to helping Georgia injury victims get the compensation they deserve. Located in Kennesaw, Georgia, Joel Williams serves clients throughout the State of Georgia.