Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers - 450 7th Ave Suite 1605, New York, NY 10123 - Personal Injury Lawyers in NYC

Intentional Tort

Click For Your Free Consulation

Intentional Tort

Intentional TortAn intentional tort is a deliberate act of misconduct that harms someone, either physically, emotionally, or financially.

Although a tort is not the same as a crime, many intentional torts are also crimes.

The victim of an intentional tort can file a claim against the perpetrator seeking monetary damages.

Examples of Intentional Torts

Following are some examples of common intentional torts:

  • Assault: Putting someone in apprehensive of immediate physical harm. Pointing a gun in someone’s face is an example, even if you never pull the trigger.
  • Battery: Making offensive or harmful physical contact with someone without their consent. No injury is required; sexual assault constitutes battery, for example.
  • Wrongful death: Intentionally and unjustifiably killing someone. 
  • False imprisonment: Deliberately confining someone without the legal authority to do so. Either a police officer or a civilian can commit this offense.
  • Conversion: Conversion is the taking of personal property (not real property) with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of it.
  • Trespass to land: Intentional entry onto your land or into your dwelling without your permission constitutes trespass to land.
  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress: Imagine a cruel prankster who calls a father, identifies themselves as the coroner, falsely tells the father that his daughter has been killed in a car accident, and asks him to come to the morgue to identify the body. This is but one example.

The foregoing is not an exhaustive list of all possible intentional torts.


“Damages” means compensation for your losses. New York recongizes three kinds of damages: economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are easy to count damages such as medical expenses, lost earnings, and out-of-pocket expenses arising directly from the tort.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are intangible damages such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, humuliation, and similar losses. Courts place concrete dollar values on these losses every day.

Punitive Damages

Courts award punitive damages when the defendant’s behavior was so outrageous that the court wants to punish the defendant, not only to compensate you. The court will add punitive damages to your economic and non-economic damages.

 Courts are normally reluctant to award punitive damages. They are more willing to do so, however, when the defendant acts intentionally.

What’s the Difference Between an Intentional Tort and a Crime?

Many intentional torts are also crimes. Punching someone in the face (without justification) is both an intentional tort and a crime. So is pointing a gun in someone’s face, even if you don’t pull the trigger. 

The main differences between an intentional tort and a crime are the venue, who initiates the claim, and the standard of proof.

  • In terms of venue, an intentional tort is tried in civil court, and a crime is tried in criminal court. 
  • In an intentional tort, it is the victim who pursues the claim. In a crime, it is the prosecutor who initiates the claim.
  • The defendant in an intentional tort must be found liable by a preponderance of the evidence. The defendant in a criminal prosecution must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Inconsistent results are not uncommon. A defendant might be found not guilty of murder, for example, but still lose a wrongful death lawsuit over the death of the same person. Criminal prosecutions and civil lawsuits are two completely separate proceedings.

The Standard of Proof

Closely examine the following three standards of proof that courts apply, depending on what is at stake.

“Beyond a reasonable doubt”

“Beyond a reasonable doubt” doesn’t mean “beyond a shadow of a doubt.” It does mean enough evidence that no reasonable person would seriously doubt the defendant’s guilt. This standard is used exclusively in criminal cases.

“A preponderance of the evidence”

A preponderance of the evidence is enough evidence to convince the ourt that your version of events is at least slightly more than 50% likely to be true. In other words, your evidence outweighs the defendant’s evidence, no matter how slightly. A preponderance of the evidence is the standard you need to win a personal injury lawsuit.

“Clear and convincing evidence”

Clear and convincing evidence” is a standard of proof that demands more than “a preponderance of the evidence”, but less than “beyond a reasonable doubt.”  In personal injury law, it is normally used only when a plaintiff asserts a claim for punitive damages. Criminal trials do not use this standard.

The Insurance Problem

Insurance pays a significant portion of negligence claims. Unfortunately, very few insurance policies will pay out over an intentional tort. What you can do in many instances, however, is sue an institution responsible for supervising the perpetrator for the tort of negligent supervision. There are also other workarounds that can result in generous settlements.  

Hire a New York City Personal Injury Attorney

Proving an intentional tort can be difficult, especially if you are seeking punitive damages. It can also be difficult to identify a defendant who can afford to pay.  Nevertheless, a skilled New York City personal injury lawyer at Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers might very well find a way for you to walk away with a tidy sum in your pocket, even after paying legal fees, contact us today at (212) 564 2800.

Call Now Button