In civil litigation, intentional torts refer to unlawful actions committed by a person with the express intention of causing harm. Intentional torts differ from personal injury cases resulting from other causes, such as negligence or accident.
As such, the most critical element in validating an intentional tort is to prove that an individual chose to act maliciously.
The consequences of purposefully causing harm can be just as catastrophic as any other personal injury claim. Though intentional torts are handled in civil court, many of these claims also include criminal elements.
If you’ve suffered a personal injury as a result of someone else’s intentional actions in Washington, learning more about how intentional torts work may affect your ability to recover damages.
What Are Torts?
The term “tort” refers to any wrongful act that causes harm to another party. Torts encompass various actions and situations and are filed to determine liability whenever a victim seeks compensation for damages in civil court.
When it comes to intentional torts, the most critical element to prove is that the defendant knowingly and deliberately engaged in malicious behavior, even if they didn’t necessarily intend to cause injuries or other acute forms of harm.
Damages awarded in an intentional tort case vary greatly depending on the nature of the incident but may result in compensation designed to cover expenses such as:
- Medical bills
- Lost income
- Loss of future earnings
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
- Therapy and long-term care
Though most states also allow plaintiffs in intentional torts to seek punitive damages, Washington is one of the few states that prohibits this practice in personal injury claims. That said, the state doesn’t set any caps on the amount a plaintiff may seek in an intentional tort claim.
Common Examples of Intentional Torts
Some of the most common examples of intentional torts include:
- False imprisonment
- Emotional distress
- Invasion of privacy
In Washington, most intentional torts are also criminal actions. As such, your civil claim will likely overlap with a criminal case.
If you have a criminal case pending in state court, you’ll have to wait for it to resolve before moving forward with a civil lawsuit to recover financial damages.
Intentional Torts Cases in Washington
Under Washington law, intentional torts come with a two-year statute of limitations, significantly shorter than that of personal injuries resulting from accidents or negligence. If you’ve been injured by another person’s deliberate actions and wish to secure compensation for the harm you’ve suffered, you’ll need to act quickly.