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What Are the Most Common Intentional Torts?

April 24, 2023 In Mass Tort

In legal terms, a tort is a breach of duty or wrongful act that results in legal liability for the person who committed it. Torts can be divided into two main categories: intentional torts and unintentional torts. While unintentional torts, also known as negligence, result from carelessness or failure to exercise reasonable care, intentional torts are committed with the intention to cause harm to another person.

If you are harmed by someone else’s intentional actions, you have the right to pursue civil action against him or her in court in addition to any criminal charges that may be levied. In these situations, however, it is important to know what qualifies as an intentional tort. There are seven types of intentional torts: assault, battery, conversion, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, trespass to land, and trespass to chattels.


Assault occurs when one person intentionally threatens to harm another person. The threat can be verbal or physical. The threat must be reasonable enough to make the victim fear for his or her safety. For example, if someone points a gun at another person, it can be considered assault even if the gun is not loaded.


Battery is the intentional act of physically harming someone without their consent. It can include hitting, pushing, or punching someone. Even if the harm caused is minor, it can still be considered battery if it was intentional.

We often hear the terms assault and battery used interchangeably, but they have different legal meanings. For instance, assault involves the act of threatening or attempting to harm someone, which may or may not result in physical contact. For example, throwing a punch and missing the target can be considered assault, as it creates an expectation of harm. On the other hand, if the punch connects, the law considers it to be battery.

False Imprisonment

False imprisonment is the intentional act of restricting someone’s freedom of movement without his or her consent. It can include physical restraint, such as tying someone up, or psychological restraint, such as locking someone in a room or threatening to harm him or her if he or she tries to leave. False imprisonment may also refer to illegal detainment by the police or other authorities.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

The infliction of emotional distress occurs when the defendant’s behavior is so extreme that it causes a severe emotional reaction in the victim. To be considered a tort, the behavior must be outrageous, such as falsely informing someone that a loved one has died when he or she is alive and well. These actions may cause the victim to feel humiliated, frightened, or ashamed.

The emotional distress experienced by the victim must be severe to qualify as an intentional tort. Although physical effects are not required, they may help prove the extent of the distress. Damage from teeth grinding or even cardiac issues can go a long way is establishing that this distress occurred. 

Unlike other intentional torts, intent is not required for the intentional infliction of emotional distress. Despite the name, recklessness alone can be enough to establish liability.

Trespass to Land

Trespass to land refers to the act of intentionally entering someone’s property and any attached structures, such as buildings, trees, and fixtures, without his or her permission. This intentional tort may also involve a person who refuses to leave a property after being asked to do so.

Even placing a foot on someone’s property without permission can be considered trespass if the defendant is aware that he or she is not allowed to be there. It is important to note that causing damage to the property is not necessary for liability in a trespass claim; if a person intentionally enters someone’s property without authorization, he or she can be held liable for trespass

Trespass to Chattels

Chattels refer to any movable property, including items such as cars, computers, animals, and clothing. That being said, trespass to chattels refers to the intentional act of interfering with someone’s personal property without their consent. This can include damaging, taking, or using someone’s property without permission. 

To be held liable, the defendant must have substantially interfered with the plaintiff’s property. Simply touching or using the property is not enough to be considered interference. However, causing damage to the property would be considered interference and thus, trespass to chattel.


Conversion refers to the act of interfering with chattel in such a severe manner that it forces the plaintiff to sell the property to the defendant. For example, say that a person steals another’s car, tampers with it, and causes such significant damage that the owner cannot sell it at a fair market value from another buyer. The defendant then takes possession of the wrecked car, effectively forcing the owner to sell the vehicle.

Contact an Intentional Torts Attorney

If you have been the victim of an intentional tort, you deserve justice. The harm caused by intentional torts can be severe and long-lasting, affecting your physical and emotional well-being, as well as your financial stability. It is important to understand your rights and options for pursuing compensation for the harm caused to you. In these situations, an intentional torts attorney can help.

Intentional torts attorneys have a deep understanding of the laws and regulations governing these legal matters and can provide you with guidance on the best course of action to take based on your circumstances. They can also help you understand the potential outcomes of your case and what to expect throughout the legal process.

An attorney with experience handling intentional torts can help you navigate the legal process and ensure that your rights are protected. Your international or mass tort lawyer can assist you in gathering evidence to support your case and determining the damages you may be entitled to receive. He or she can also negotiate on your behalf with the defendant or an insurance company to reach a fair settlement or take your case to court if necessary.

As soon as possible following the event, seek medical attention for any physical or psychological injuries. Collect all records related to the incident and any evidence that you may have preserved. Then, contact an intentional torts attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case and plan your next steps.