What Are Intentional Torts?: A Straightforward Guide

What Are Intentional Torts

Have someone else’s purposeful and wrongful actions hurt you? You may be eligible to sue for intentional tort.

Intentional torts, or wrongful acts with harm intended by the doer, are among the most common causes for lawsuits. We have some of the most common types of intentional torts compiled for you below:

Assault and Battery

These intentional torts most often overlap with criminal charges of the same name.

Battery is a fancy legal term for when someone physically touches you with intent to harm. This includes punching, hitting, using a weapon, poisoning someone’s food, or throwing something at them. Even if you don’t suffer any medical damage, you could still sue someone for battery if they intended to harm you.

Assault, often tied to battery in criminal cases, refers to an attempt at battery or a threat of battery. If someone points a gun at you, they’ve committed an act of assault, and you should get in touch with your personal injury lawyer.


Let’s face it, people love to make false claims and comments online. Especially about those they dislike. But if done as a statement of fact, the authors of those comments could find themselves on the receiving end of a defamation suit.

Defamation as an intentional tort refers to when people spread known false information as fact which causes damage to another person’s reputation or livelihood.

False Imprisonment

If someone holds you against your will and confines you without legal authority, you should get in touch with your lawyer as soon as possible. This is false imprisonment, and unless the police or a shopkeeper who suspected you of shoplifting held you, you’re entitled to damages.


Fraud is another fancy legalese term for a simple concept: lying to someone. Like assault and battery, this can upgrade to a criminal charge, depending on the circumstances.

Proving fraud can be tricky. Plaintiffs must show that the liar knew what they said was false, knew others would act on it, and said it anyway, even knowing the deceived party would be harmed.

Trespass and Invasion of Privacy

Generally speaking, people aren’t allowed to touch your stuff or enter your property without your express consent. You can still sue someone for trespass, even if your property suffered no damage.

Invasion of privacy laws are different from state to state. Generally speaking, if you disclose private facts in public, use someone’s face without their permission, or use cameras or microphones to spy on someone, you’ve invaded their privacy.

Infliction of Emotional Distress

This intentional tort is difficult to prove. To successfully file this claim, a plaintiff must prove that their opposition acted outrageously in an attempt to frighten or harm them. They must also prove that extreme emotional harm was done as a result.

Review: What Intentional Torts Mean

The key takeaway from all this is that intentional torts refer to harmful acts intended to cause harm. It doesn’t matter whether any harm got done, only that harm was intended.

If you’re looking for answers to more legal FAQs, visit our blog every day for more content just like this!

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About the Author: Wayne Probert

Wayne Probert is a senior reporter at Zobuz, covering state and national politics, and he is a grantee with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Before joining Zobuz, he worked as a freelance journalist in Kentucky, having been published by dozens of outlets including NPR, the Center for Media.