Personal Injury 101: Is It a Negligent or Intentional Tort?

injured man talking to a lawyer

How your personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim would pan out would depend, to some degree, on the specific type of tort you’re alleging. In general, cases of personal injury come in various sizes and shapes. However, practically all of them are founded on whether the wounds of the victim were due to the defendant’s intentionally committed acts or negligent or careless actions.

The former is known as an intentional tort while the latter is known as a negligent tort. To understand more about their differences, you can consult a personal injury lawyer in Brooklyn, NY.

What Exactly Are Intentional Torts?

Intentional torts happen when the plaintiff sustained injuries due to the intent of the defendant to cause the plaintiff harm, or threaten the plaintiff with an offense or harmful act. The following are common examples of intentional torts.

  • Assault – This typically involves any deliberate or intentional act that makes the plaintiff reasonably fearful of imminent danger, such as when pointing a knife or loaded firearm at another person.
  • Battery – This involves practically any form of contact considered to be offensive or harmful, even if the plaintiff wasn’t actually harmed.
  • Trespassing – Entering another individual’s property illegally.
  • False Imprisonment – This happens when the defendant deliberately confines another individual’s movement, whether constructively or actually, without having the legal authority to do so.

an injured man talking to doctors

Plenty of intentional torts could likewise lead to criminal charges. For instance, if a crime of assault results in the plaintiff sustaining injuries, he might file a lawsuit against the defendant and seek damages. In turn, the prosecutor might likewise file criminal charges against the defendant, if state law categorizes battery as a misdemeanor.

Understanding Negligent Torts

Virtually all accidents, including slip and falls and vehicle accidents, are categorized as negligent torts. These types of cases involve the following components.

  • Duty – Generally speaking, everybody owes everyone else the duty to exercise reasonable care, that is, care that any reasonable individual would apply given the same circumstances to avoid harming others. In auto accident cases for instance, if drivers operated their vehicles with reasonable care, then the accident wouldn’t have taken place in the first place.
  • Breach of Duty – This occurs when the defendant breaches his legal duty to apply reasonable care under the circumstances and as a result caused another individual harm. For instance, a driver who drives under the influence of alcohol and hits a pedestrian has breached his duty of care because he drove irresponsibly.
  • Causation – This is usually straightforward in most cases. Essentially, the actions of the defendant should have directly resulted in harm to another individual.
  • Damages – In all cases involving negligent torts, the plaintiff should have actually sustained injuries due to the incident or accident to be awarded money damages for medical expenses, loss of employment, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.

When you have sustained injuries due to another individual’s actions, determining whether your injuries were caused negligently or intentionally might not seem that high on your list of priorities. However, when filing a lawsuit or an insurance claim, pursuing the most appropriate claim could make a huge difference between winning and losing your case.