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What is an intentional tort?

August 27, 2009

The most common basis for a Texas personal injury lawsuit is negligence. However, sometimes lawsuits are based on what is known in legal terms as an “intentional tort.”

In the most simple terms, an intentional tort, as the name implies, is a wrongful act intentionally committed by the wrongdoer. Rather than negligence, which is unintentional, an intentional tort involves committing the act knowingly and purposefully.

The main difference between an intentional tort and negligence, in terms of personal injury lawsuits, is that the plaintiff must also prove intent in addition to the other elements of a personal injury lawsuit. Intent means that the defendant acted either on purpose or with substantial knowledge that an injury or other harm was likely to occur.

An intentional tort is a civil wrong, which may or may not also be a criminal act. For example, assault and battery are both intentional torts that can also result in criminal charges and prosecution.

In addition to assault and battery, other types of intentional torts include:

  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress
  • Slander
  • Libel
  • False imprisonment
  • Trespass
  • Fraud
  • Nuisance
  • Theft

Often, the damages awarded in cases of intentional torts are more substantial than those awarded in cases of negligence. The large amount of damages awarded are intended to serve, in part, as a deterrent. Society wants to discourage people from intentionally committing wrongful acts against fellow citizens.

Punitive damages are more frequently available in intentional tort cases than in other types of personal injury lawsuits. Punitive damages are intended to serve as a punishment rather than as direct compensation to the victim for their losses and injuries.

If you have been the victim of an intentional tort, you may have grounds for bringing a Texas personal injury lawsuit. The Texas personal injury lawyers of Fears Nachawati provide tort victims with free legal advice. To speak to one of our attorneys, completely free of charge, email us at or call us on our toll-free number at 1.866.705.7584.

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