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Attorney Sanga Turnbull

What’s the Difference Between Negligence and Intentional Torts in Personal Injury Law?

On Behalf of | Nov 24, 2020 | Personal Injury

When someone causes injury to you or your loved one, their conduct falls into the category of “tort law.” Both negligent acts and intentional acts that result in bodily injury are categorized as tort law. Many Floridians do not understand the difference between negligence and intentional torts when trying to recover damages for their injury.

While negligent and intentional acts are torts, they are treated differently by personal injury law. The way your injury claim is handled and the way damages are awarded will depend on whether the claim is based on negligence or intentional tort.

If you were injured due to someone else’s negligence or intentional act, do not hesitate to speak with a lawyer to determine whether you should file a negligence-based claim or an intentional-based claim in Florida.

Difference Between Negligent and Intentional Acts

The defendant’s state of mind and intent are the primary difference between negligence and intentional torts. A person is negligent when they breach the reasonable standard of care and end up causing bodily injury to other people. While the defendant may not intend to cause harm to the plaintiff, they are still responsible for their actions and the resulting damages.

Intentional torts are not based on negligence. Instead, an intentional act occurs when the defendant purposely caused the plaintiff’s injury. Since the victim’s injury is the result of a purposeful act, the defendant must be held accountable for the damages and losses.

Proving Negligence vs. Intentional Tort

The elements that you need to establish to prove a negligence-based or intentional-based claim differ as well. In order to recover damages in an intentional-based claim, you must prove that:

  • The defendant intentionally did something that caused your injury; and
  • The defendant’s intentional act caused you harm and damages.

When seeking compensation via a negligence-based personal injury claim, the victim is required to establish the following four elements:

  • The defendant owed them a duty of care;
  • The duty was breached due to the defendant’s negligence or carelessness;
  • The breach of duty caused the plaintiff’s injury; and
  • The injury resulted in damages and/or losses.

Damages in Negligence and Intentional Injury Claims

All tort cases, including negligence and intentional torts, are civil cases. If you were injured and suffered damages due to someone else’s negligent or intentional act, you have a right to file a civil lawsuit against them.

Regardless of whether you are suing the defendant for negligence or intentional tort, you can seek compensation for both economic and non-economic damages. In civil cases, the defendant is punished by compensating the plaintiff for their monetary damages and losses. In criminal cases, on the other hand, defendants may be punished by fines and imprisonment.

In some cases, however, intentional torts are classified as both civil and criminal matters. Damages that are available in negligence-based personal injury cases include loss of income, reimbursement for medical bills, pain and suffering, diminished earning capacity, out-of-pocket expenses, and many others.

When the defendant’s acts qualify as “intentional,” the injured party is entitled to all of the economic and non-economic damages that are available in negligence-based cases in addition to punitive damages, which are intended to deter the defendant and others from engaging in similar conduct in the future.

Schedule a consultation with a Lakeland personal injury lawyer to determine whether you should file a negligence-based or intentional-based claim to recover damages in your particular case. Contact The Turnbull Firm to receive a case review today. Call at 863-324-3500.