intentional tort

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An intentional tort is a type of tort that can only result from an intentional act of the defendant. Depending on the exact tort alleged, either general or specific intent will need to be proven.  Common intentional torts are batteryassaultfalse imprisonmenttrespass to landtrespass to chattels, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

For instance, in the case of Garratt v. Dailey, 46 Wash.2d 197 (1955), the court held that a young boy who intentionally pulled a chair out from under an elderly woman, causing her to fall and sustain injuries, was liable for the intentional tort of battery, even though he did not intend to harm her.

Many legal codes and statutes provide causes of action for intentional torts, and they may also provide for punitive damages in cases where the defendant's conduct was particularly egregious. For example, California's Civil Code Section 3294 provides for punitive damages in certain cases of intentional torts. 

[Last updated in March of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]