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Intentional Torts

There are a number of intentional torts, or injuries caused by a person acting with deliberate intent to injure another, which can form the basis of a personal injury claim. Deliberate conduct like this is referred to as knowing and malicious, and a person that acts intentionally and harm results will be liable for the harm caused. An intentional tort is committed when someone intentionally harms another person or the property of another. There are several common intentional torts which are committed that lead to Orlando lawsuits.

Assault

Florida law of personal injury gives you the right to control who or what does or does not touch your body. If you are assaulted, that means that an act or threat to act is committed which is intended to put you in fear of imminent non-consensual physical touching. You do not actually have to come into physical contact with the defendant to be assaulted. Physical contact turns the assault into a batter, but the fear of physical contact is the assault.

In many cases assault leads to battery, but even when it does not, you can still be assaulted. For example, if somebody chases you with a baseball bat, you have been assaulted, whether they caught up with you and battered you or not. If somebody throws a rock at you and you are afraid you are going to be hit, you have been assaulted. If you are then hit by the rock, you have also suffered a battery.

Battery

You may have a claim of battery if somebody intentionally and without your consent touches you in an offensive or harmful manner. A battery is committed when a person intentionally hits another person, with their fist or with another object. Battery requires physical contact with the victim (or contact with an object or projectile thrown by the batterer. Offensive and insulting contact, such as spitting on somebody or touching their private parts, is also battery.

Conversion of Property

Conversion of property occurs when somebody intentionally interferes with another person’s ownership or possession of property that is substantial enough to require the wrongdoer to completely compensate the victim for the property’s full value. An example of this is if a neighbor borrows a lawn mower, and then never returns it, in spite of numerous requests. In Orlando, the taker of the lawn mower will be liable under a theory of conversion for damages. This is a civil penalty alone. Conversion, as well as the other intentional torts, can also carry criminal penalties. In this case, the criminal charge would be for theft.

Defamation of Character

A person defames the character of another when they injure that person’s reputation by making false statements. A defamatory statement can be made through either libel or slander. Libel is a defamatory statement that is published in writing, while slander is a verbal defamatory statement. To succeed in either a libel or a slander claim, you must establish the publication of a statement of fact; that the statement refers to you; that the statement is defamatory; and that the statement is false. The truth is a complete defense to any defamation charge, whether it is libel or slander.

False Imprisonment

The tort of false imprisonment is the unlawful detention or restraint of another person’s freedom of movement for any length of time, without consent or justification. To bring a claim of false imprisonment against another, you must establish that you were confined, and that the confinement you experienced was without your consent. You can be confined in a variety of ways, from being locked in a room to being held at gunpoint. It is the intent that is important for this element, and you must be able to establish that the defendant had the intent to confine you against your will.

You also must prove that you were aware that you were confined against your will, to establish a claim of false imprisonment. Finally, you must be harmed in some way due to the confinement. By way of example, if you are locked in a room in somebody’s house intentionally, they have falsely imprisoned you. If there is a window in the room however that you can fit through, it constitutes a reasonable means of escape, meaning no false imprisonment occurred.

Fraud and Misrepresentation

Someone who intentionally makes false statements to induce another person to give up something of value or to engage in certain conduct has committed the tort of fraud. If a store sells you a ring that they list as a diamond ring, even though they knew they sold you a cubic zirconia, you have a claim of fraud against them. Misrepresentation is similar to fraud, and occurs when a person makes a false statement or gives a false impression, with the intent to deceive another person. The elements required to establish misrepresentation are very similar to those required to establish fraud, and there are a number of elements that must be proven in order to recover damages in these types of cases.

Most cases of fraud and misrepresentation arise from a contract situation. Contractual misrepresentation can be innocent or fraudulent, and either can be grounds to void a contract. If the misrepresentation is fraudulent, the victims may also sue for damages.

Fraud is a misrepresentation that is made with full knowledge of its falsity, made with the intent to deceive, while innocent misrepresentations are not meant to deceive. To be considered fraud, an assertion must: (1) be untrue; (2) be made knowing it was untrue; (3) induced the plaintiff to enter into a contract or otherwise rely on the untrue assertion; and (4) the reliance of the plaintiff was justifiable. To recover damages in a lawsuit for fraud, you must also prove that you suffered economic injury as a result of the reliance on the fraudulent assertion.

 

In addition to any fraudulently-entered contract being voided, the defendant may also be responsible for damages, even punitive damages. Fraud is both a criminal and civil action, and the Florida statute governing fraud claims allows for three-times the actual damages as a fraud remedy.

The Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

One commits the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress when he or she engages in extreme and outrageous conduct which is intended to cause severe mental anguish in a victim, and does in fact cause severe mental anguish and distress. Conduct is legally “outrageous” if a reasonable person of “ordinary sensibilities” would feel extreme distress under the same circumstances. If the defendant is aware that the victim is a highly sensitive person, the outrageousness standard is lowered. To recover damages in cases of the intentional infliction of emotional distress, you must show physical side effects of the distress, and another type of non-psychological damages, like lost wages if you missed any work.

are three possible types of intentions in these cases that give rise to civil liability: (1) when the wrongdoer is trying to cause you emotional distress; (2) when the wrongdoer knows with substantial certainty that you will suffer emotional distress as result of his or her actions; or (3) when the wrongdoer recklessly disregards the high probability that his or her actions will result in the infliction of emotional distress upon another.

Trespass

Property owners have many legal rights, including the right to exclusive use and enjoyment of the property they own. A person can be liable for trespass if he or she enters the private property of the plaintiff without consent, and thereby interferes with the owner’s exclusive rights to the land. A trespass occurs in Orlando when a person intentionally enters the land of another, without permission. It also occurs when a person remains on the land of another without continuing permission to be there (so, for example, if a visitor is told to leave but does not); or when a person places an object on someone else’s land without permission and refuses to remove it. Trespass only encompasses the intentional interference of the land of another. If you enter the property of another accidentally, it will not be trespassing. By way of example, if a burglar enters your home with the intent of committing a robbery, this is a trespass. If somebody who is lost wanders accidentally into your backyard, this is not trespass.

Trespass to Chattels

“Chattel” refers to personal property, like a car, or jewelry, or a pet. Somebody who intentionally possesses another person’s property without their consent, even if only for a brief time, is guilty of trespass to chattels. To prevail on a claim of trespass to chattel, you must also prove that you were harmed as a result. Example: If you take your friend’s new car for a joy ride without his authorization and during the course of your ride you dent the back fender, you have committed a trespass to chattel.

 

In any of these cases we always recommend calling an Orlando Personal Injury Lawyer.

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