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Your Rights When Someone Hurts You On Purpose: Understanding Intentional Torts

Posted on - Monday, October 19, 2015 under Dangerous Drugs & Products, Personal Injury

Most personal injury lawsuits are based on allegations that the defendant’s carelessness, recklessness, or negligence caused the injuries for which compensation is being sought.

The other driver in a car accident may have been driving too fast or been tailgating, but he didn’t mean to hit you. The company that manufactured that defective medical device should have known about dangerous problems with its product, but it didn’t intend for patients to be hurt or injured.

Sometimes, however, people hurt other people on purpose. Such acts are called “intentional torts” and can be the basis of Georgia personal injury lawsuits just as acts of negligence can be.

Criminal Cases v. Civil Lawsuits

A punch in the face, a gunshot, a rape – all of these are acts done intentionally, even if the extent of the injuries caused may not have been intended or foreseen. While these acts can be prosecuted as criminal offenses such as battery, murder, and sexual assault, the victims of those crimes can also sue in civil court to recover damages for their injuries.

The outcome of a personal injury lawsuit based on an intentional tort does not depend on the outcome of any criminal case based on the injury-causing act. This is because the elements of a crime and the burden of proof for obtaining a criminal conviction in Georgia are different than those for obtaining a judgment in a civil personal injury suit.

To convict someone of a crime, prosecutors must prove all of the elements of their case “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In a civil lawsuit, the standard is lower – the plaintiff only has to prove all of the elements of their claim by a “preponderance of the evidence.”

The Example of O.J.

A famous example of how an individual who committed an intentional tort can be acquitted in a criminal case but still be held liable in a civil suit is the O.J. Simpson case. He was, of course, found not guilty of murder because the jury somehow felt that the state had not proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Later, the families of the victims filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Simpson and obtained a $33.5 million judgment against him.

If Someone Injured You On Purpose, We Can Help

The injuries caused by intentional torts can be just as devastating as those caused by negligence, and the loss of a loved one by such an act is just as traumatic if not more so.

If you have suffered injuries or lost a family member due to someone’s intentional acts, regardless of any criminal charges, please give us a call at (770) 727-5550 or chat live online with a member of our staff today. We can discuss your situation, evaluate your potential claim, and advise you of your options.