Ideally, you want to surround yourself with positive and loving influences from family members to life partners. However, not all relationships are encouraging and supportive. Some partners don’t offer love. Instead, they use a relationship as a means of control, pushing you down and inflicting physical or emotional harm on you.
Domestic violence and abuse are not always apparent. Abuse can manifest over time, and many victims feel it is too late to seek help or get out if they realize they’re being abused in a long-term relationship. At Wallace Miller, we want you to know it is never too late to seek help. Domestic violence can profoundly impact your physical, emotional, and financial stability.
At Wallace Miller, we understand the ramifications of systematic domestic abuse. Our team knows you will face challenges ahead, one of which may be holding your abuser accountable for their actions. Our skilled Chicago intentional tort attorneys are committed to protecting your rights and helping you seek meaningful compensation for your physical and emotional injuries. You may feel like justice is out of reach. With the help of Wallace Miller, you can fight for the justice you deserve.
What Is an Intentional Tort?
An intentional tort is a purposeful act committed by an individual that causes physical and emotional harm to another person. A careless individual who causes an accident may face a personal injury lawsuit but not an intentional tort case. These cases only involve situations where a person knowingly inflicts physical or emotional harm on another person.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is not necessarily a criminal offense. Instead, domestic violence is an umbrella term used to describe several harmful domestic situations or crimes perpetrated against a family member or intimate partner.
At its core, domestic violence can happen to anyone at any time. It is generally a pattern of coercive and destructive behavior that aims to injure or tear down a family member’s physical, financial, or emotional stability. Most people tend to think of domestic violence as physical abuse. However, abuse comes in many forms and is almost always an extension of a person’s need to control another human being. Some common forms of domestic abuse include:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Verbal abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Financial or economic abuse
Painting domestic violence with such a broad brush can complicate the legal implications of pursuing justice. Illinois law lists a spectrum of behaviors as hallmarks of domestic violence and abuse. The criminal code defines domestic violence as certain acts perpetrated by someone with a relationship to the victim. Relationships that fall under the scope of domestic violence can include:
- Former or ex-spouses
- Individuals who previously shared a residence
- Individuals with children in common
- Those who previously or are currently involved in an intimate relationship
- Caregivers of disabled individuals
Domestic violence also encompasses several different abusive acts:
- Verbal abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Willful deprivation
- Interference with personal liberty
In criminal cases of domestic violence, the term “domestic” is typically added to the actual criminal charges. For example, if a husband intentionally causes bodily harm to his wife, he could face charges of domestic battery. Domestic battery is a Class A misdemeanor offense. Someone with a prior domestic conviction on their criminal record could face Class 4 felony charges for domestic battery.
Types of Intentional Torts
Intentional torts are governed by civil law rather than criminal law. There are several different types of intentional tort categories. The most common types of intentional tort cases include:
- False imprisonment
- Intentional infliction of emotional distress
- Trespass to land
- Trespass to chattels
Domestic Violence and Intentional Torts
Domestic violence is the systematic physical or emotional abuse of a partner or family member. That means domestic violence offenses can fall into one or more intentional tort categories. A spouse who intentionally inflicts bodily harm on their partner by making physical contact with them commits battery, which is a type of intentional tort.
False imprisonment occurs when someone purposefully restricts another person’s freedom of movement. When this happens within the confines of a relationship or partnership, you may have an intentional tort case on your hands.
The most common acts within a domestic situation that can spark a domestic violence intentional tort case tend to include battery, assault, defamation, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Harmful Effects of Domestic Violence
The list of long-term consequences of domestic abuse is extensive. Domestic abuse can shatter a person’s sense of self and scar them physically and emotionally. It can take tremendous medical and psychological intervention to help a person recover from the harmful effects of abuse and violence. Healing often takes time and commitment. Survivors of domestic abuse often experience detrimental effects, including:
- Physical injuries like bruises and broken bones
- Chronic fatigue
- Eating disorders
- Sleep disorders
- Sexual dysfunction
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Low self-esteem
- Tendency for self-harm
Intentional Torts vs. Personal Injury Cases
An intentional tort case is not the same as a personal injury case. Although they are similar, there is one crucial distinction between the two civil remedies, and that is intention. Think about a personal injury case in terms of an accident. A careless driver hits you, causing an accident. Perhaps the driver was speeding at the time. Although they violated their duty to operate their vehicle safely and their carelessness caused an accident, the driver did not purposefully set out to hurt you. A personal injury lawsuit gives you, the victim, the legal ability to seek compensation for the negligent individual’s actions.
An intentional tort is different. It is a legal remedy specially designed to aid victims of intentionally hurtful acts. In personal injury cases, you do not have to prove intent, only negligence. In an intentional tort case, the intent is the core tenet of the case.
Intentional Torts vs. Criminal Cases
It is also vital to understand the distinction between a civil tort case and a criminal case. Domestic violence can be a criminal act punishable with fines and potentially significant prison time. A person who commits aggravated domestic battery, for example, may face penalties handed down by the Illinois criminal justice system. In a criminal case, the state government brings the case to court to establish the guilt or innocence of an individual. If guilty, the state will seek to protect the public good by issuing a criminal punishment.
An intentional tort case is separate from a criminal case and is brought to court by the victim of the harmful act. Instead of seeking punishment, a civil tort seeks compensation or monetary damages to help make up for the harm the victim suffered. Whereas the prosecution in a criminal case must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the perpetrator is responsible, in a tort case, the victim only needs to prove by a preponderance of the evidence the individual is more likely than not to have committed an act of domestic abuse.
Compensation in a Domestic Violence Intentional Tort Case
What is the value of human suffering? It can feel next to impossible to put a price on your suffering if you are the victim of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse often leaves people feeling vulnerable and can lead to life-altering physical and mental complications. At Wallace Miller, our sensitive legal team understands how the lingering effects of domestic abuse may impact your day-to-day life.
Our team of skilled intentional tort attorneys is willing to listen to your story and review the circumstances of your case. We can discuss whether filing an intentional tort case is the best legal avenue for you and can calculate the value of your case. Overall, we may be able to help you seek money for the following:
- Medical expenses
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Lost wages
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
In some cases, punitive damages may be awarded to a victim. Punitive damages are not intended to compensate you for your measurable or subjective losses. Instead, they are a form of punishment levied against a wrongdoer.
Where Can You Turn for Help?
If you are a victim of domestic violence, several state organizations and agencies are willing to help. At any time, you can reach out to the compassionate team at Wallace Miller for support and legal advice. You may also wish to seek the resources that the following organizations can provide:
Please know there is always a way out of a bad domestic situation.
Contact an Experienced Intentional Tort Attorney Today
Abusers often make domestic violence victims feel isolated and alone. At Wallace Miller, we want you to know you are not alone. Our dedicated team of intentional tort attorneys will help you seek the compensation and justice you deserve. We will aggressively advocate for your rights and make sure you have access to the resources you need to move forward with your life.
For a free and confidential legal consultation, contact our office by phone at (312) 261-6193. We will take the time to listen to you and offer valuable legal advice to help you get through this traumatic time. Our results speak for themselves.