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Examples of Unintentional and Intentional Torts

Colburn Law

Examples of Intentional and Unintentional Torts

When disputes arise, the field of tort law becomes a crucial framework for resolving conflicts. Tort law governs situations where one party’s actions cause harm to another, categorizing these actions as either intentional or unintentional torts based on the presence or absence of deliberate intent.

If you have been injured by another person in Washington, knowing the difference between intentional and unintentional torts can help you understand your legal options.

What Is an Intentional Tort?

Intentional torts occur when a person deliberately engages in actions that they know will cause harm or that are substantially likely to do so. Intentional torts cover a range of wrongful behaviors, from direct physical aggression to indirect harms that invade privacy or damage reputation.

Examples of intentional torts may include:

  • Assault: Assault involves an act that creates a reasonable apprehension in another person of imminent harmful or offensive contact. It is the fear of harm that constitutes assault, not the actual physical impact.
  • Battery: This tort involves intentional and wrongful physical contact with another person without their consent. Battery can range from a light touch to a violent blow.
  • Defamation: Defamation occurs when a false statement is made about a person, published through any medium, that causes damage to that person’s reputation or standing in the community. 
  • Invasion of Privacy: This involves intruding into someone’s private affairs without permission, which could include unauthorized surveillance, public disclosure of private facts, or appropriation of someone’s image for commercial benefit without consent.
  • False Imprisonment: This is the act of restraining a person in a bounded area without justification or consent. The restrained person is kept against their will, regardless of the enclosure’s nature.

What Is an Unintentional Tort?

Unintentional torts, most commonly associated with negligence, occur when a person fails to act with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.

The lack of intent to harm differentiates these torts from intentional ones. Negligence does not involve a deliberate action to harm, but rather a failure to take appropriate action to prevent harm, leading to liability for any damages caused.

Examples of unintentional torts may include:

  • Car Accidents: These typically occur when a driver fails to exercise reasonable care while operating a vehicle, whether by speeding, ignoring traffic signals, or driving distractedly.
  • Medical Malpractice: This happens when a healthcare provider deviates from the standard of practice in the medical industry, leading to patient injury. Examples include surgical errors, misdiagnosis, or failure to provide necessary treatment.
  • Slip and Fall Accidents: Property owners are required to maintain safe environments for visitors. Injuries resulting from a failure to correct or warn about hazards, such as wet floors or broken stairs, can lead to claims.
  • Product Liability: This involves injuries caused by defective or unexpectedly dangerous products. Manufacturers and sellers are held responsible if they fail to warn consumers about the dangers associated with their products or if they release defective products.

Learn More About Your Options from A Seattle Personal Injury Lawyer

Whether you are dealing with unintentional or intentional acts, navigating tort law can be complex. A Washington personal injury lawyer can help you understand your legal options and recover the compensation that you deserve. To explore your path forward, contact a Seattle personal injury attorney to discuss your case and plan your next steps.