What Is The Difference Between Intentional Torts and Negligence Actions In Michigan?

Metro Detroit Personal Injury Lawyers


The difference between intentional torts and negligence claims centers on the actor's state of mind. The standard for determining whether a person's conduct was negligent is objective - whether the actor's conduct falls below that which we would expect from a reasonable person. This is commonly referred to as the reasonable person standard. For intentional torts, however, the test is more subjective, and asks whether the actor intended the action or result. 

For the actor's conduct to be intentional, it must be "willful and wanton." This means that the actor intended the harm, or acted with such indifference as to whether harm would result so as to be the functional equivalent of intending the harm. 

Some common intentional torts in Michigan include assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, false arrest or false imprisonment, defamation (libel, slander, and slander of title), and invasion of privacy. In fact, knowingly spreading a sexually transmitted disease without disclosing the disease to your partner is most commonly pled as a battery. 

One of the difficulties with intentional tort cases is that they are commonly excluded in automobile insurance policies and homeowners insurance policies. This can lead to difficulties in collecting the judgement even if the person who caused injury is found at fault and liable to the injured party.

Moreover, a party cannot avoid the negative insurance consequences of intentional torts by simply alleging that the defendant acted negligently. However, intentional torts should be carefully analyzed by a competent attorney to determine whether the facts can support a claim for negligence, and thus possibly provide insurance coverage. 

Metro Detroit Injury Lawyers is a Bloomfield Hills, Michigan law firm practicing personal injury law. Contact us today at 248-430-8929 for a free consultation and evaluation of your case, with no obligation.