Georgia Code § 51-1-1 defines a tort as “the unlawful violation of a private legal right other than a mere breach of contract, express or implied.” A tort can also be “the violation of a public duty if, as a result of the violation, some special damage accrues to the individual.” In short, a tort is an action by one party that harms another party.
A person who commits a tort is referred to as a tortfeasor. While some tort actions are based on negligence, other torts relate to intentional acts. People who suffer injuries as the result of intentional torts may be entitled to compensation for any medical expenses, lost wages, and other types of damages.
If you sustained serious injuries or your loved one was killed in Georgia as the result of another party’s intentional actions, it is in your best interest to retain legal counsel as soon as possible. Marcus A. Roberts & Associates represents clients on a contingency fee basis, meaning you do not pay us one cent unless you receive a financial award.
Atlanta personal injury lawyer Marcus A. Roberts fights for residents and visitors injured in accidents in Fulton County, Clayton County, DeKalb County, Cobb County, and Gwinnett County. Call 404-577-4444 right now to have our attorney provide a complete evaluation of your case during a free initial consultation.
An intentional tort involves a tortfeasor deliberately causing harm to another party. An intentional tort requires the same basic elements of all tort claims: A legal duty of care that the defendant owed the plaintiff, a breach of that duty, proof that the plaintiff’s injuries were the direct result of the breach, and the injuries resulted in monetary damages.
Some common intentional tort claims include:
Certain intentional torts result in the tortfeasor also facing criminal charges. If a tortfeasor is convicted of a criminal offense such as assault or battery, the conviction may be used as evidence in a civil claim for damages.
It is important to understand that even if a tortfeasor is not convicted of the criminal offense, he or she could still be held liable for civil damages. Perhaps the most infamous example of this scenario is Orenthal James (O.J.) Simpson, who was found not guilty in 1995 of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman. In the civil trial, however, a jury found that Simpson committed the homicides willfully and wrongfully, with oppression and malice, awarding $8.5 million in compensatory damages to the parents and heirs of Goldman on their cause of action for wrongful death as well as $12.5 million in punitive damages in the survival action. Nicole Brown Simpson’s estate was awarded minor compensatory damages and $12.5 million punitive damages in the survival action.
The major difference between civil cases and criminal cases is the standard of proof that is required in each. In order to convict a person of a crime in Georgia, the alleged offender’s guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt—the highest possible burden of proof.
In a civil case, a defendant can be held liable by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning the defendant “more than likely not” caused harm to the plaintiff. As the Supreme Court of Georgia noted in Clarke v. Cotton, 263 Ga. 861, 440 S.E.2d 165 (1994), “clear and convincing” evidence “is an intermediate standard of proof, greater than ‘the preponderance of evidence,’ but less than the ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ standard applicable in criminal cases, and, in rare instances, certain civil cases.”
Under Georgia Code § 51-1-1, punitive damages—a term synonymous with “vindictive damages,” “exemplary damages,” and other descriptions of additional damages awarded because of aggravating circumstances in order to penalize, punish, or deter a defendant—can be awarded “only in such tort actions in which it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s actions showed willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or that entire want of care which would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences.” Punitive damages are awarded not as compensation to a plaintiff, but solely to punish, penalize, or deter a defendant.
In certain cases, punitive damages are limited to a maximum of $250,000. Punitive damages, however, are not capped for torts in which a defendant acted with the specific intent to harm the victim. Other types of torts for which punitive damages may be unlimited include:
Alliance for Justice — The Alliance for Justice is “a national association of over 100 organizations, representing a broad array of groups committed to progressive values and the creation of an equitable, just, and free society.” Visit this website to learn more about some of its key issues, including judicial selection, access to justice, and bolder advocacy. You can also find a press room that includes press releases, recent news, fact sheets, and reports.
Consumer Watchdog — Consumer Watchdog is a nonprofit organization that claims to be “dedicated to providing an effective voice for taxpayers and consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics.” Some of the issues you can learn more about on this website include affordable insurance, protecting patients, and cleaner, cheaper energy. The website also has blogs, news releases, and legal updates.
Did you sustain catastrophic injuries or was your loved one killed because of the intentional actions of another party in Georgia? You will want to contact Marcus A. Roberts & Associates as soon as possible to get justice and hold the tortfeasor accountable.
Marcus A. Roberts is an experienced personal injury attorney in Atlanta who helps individuals in communities throughout Fulton County, Gwinnett County, DeKalb County, Clayton County, and Cobb County. Call 404-577-4444 or fill out an online contact form to have our lawyer review your case and discuss all of your legal options during a free, no obligation consultation.