We noted previously that a “tort” is simply a civil, as opposed to a criminal, wrong, committed against another. While criminal acts often result in incarceration to the perpetrator, the consequence flowing from the performance of a civil wrong, or “tort”, is the imposition of money damages imposed upon the “tortfeasor” and awarded to the injured party.
“Torts” are divided into those that are “intentional” and those that are unintentional.
They can be distinguished rather easily by answering the question: Did the person (“tortfeasor”) engaging in the particular action, purposely want the results of that act to occur OR was it “substantially certain” that a reasonable person could see that the results of that action would occur.
D, driving his car, sees T, who insulted D’s wife last week, on the sidewalk. D wants to scare the daylights out of T so he decides to drive his car on to a busy sidewalk. T is not hurt but, as D swerves, he hits P, an uninvolved pedestrian, severely injuring him. D committed an ”intentional tort” with respect to P !
The distinction between an intentional and unintentional tort, in the field of Personal Injury law, could be crucial and devastating. The “Statute of Limitations” for unintentional torts is virtually always three years in New York State (with certain exceptions such as in the field of medical malpractice). However, lawsuits based on “intentional torts” have a Statute of Limitations (the time within which a lawsuit MUST be brought) in New York of only ONE year. Consequently, for this and many other reasons we have been pointing out, consulting with an experienced Personal Injury Attorney just as soon after you suffer an injury as possible can mean the difference between realizing compensation for the injury you sustained or forfeiting that possibility through ignorance and inaction.