Is False Imprisonment an Intentional Tort?

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Posted on Monday, May 15th, 2023 at 12:00 pm    

Wherever you go in life, you should always feel safe and have the freedom to leave. But when someone confines you in a space, they can cause intense physical and emotional harm. Pursuing compensation for these losses is the essence of a false imprisonment claim. False imprisonment is an intentional tort, and you have the right to take action against someone who has wrongfully kept you from leaving a home, business, store, or other space.

At Wallace Miller, our Chicago intentional tort lawyers understand the toll being falsely imprisoned takes. We have the knowledge, drive, and experience to help you file a civil claim against someone who falsely imprisoned you. While the police investigate your case as criminal, we can handle a lawsuit against whoever harmed you. We’ll handle all the legal work while you concentrate on rebuilding your life. Below you’ll find more information on false imprisonment torts and how our attorneys can help with your case.

Understanding false imprisonment as an intentional tort

You may have heard the term “tort” legally, but what exactly is a tort? In simple terms, a tort is a wrongful act that leads to harm or injury for which courts can provide a remedy, usually in the form of monetary compensation.

There are different types of torts, but today, we’re focusing on “intentional torts.” As the name suggests, intentional torts are wrongful acts done intentionally, meaning someone intentionally caused harm or injury. Intentional torts include actions like assault, battery, and, yes, false imprisonment.

The legal basis for false imprisonment claims

False imprisonment is an intentional tort, but what does that mean legally? It means you have the right to bring a lawsuit against the person or entity who imprisoned you without your consent and legal justification.

So, what must you prove to establish a claim for false imprisonment? Here are the critical elements:

  • Intention: The person who imprisoned you did so intentionally, not by accident. They meant to confine you.
  • Confinement: You were held within a bounded area and could not leave freely. This doesn’t necessarily mean being locked up or physically restrained; even threatening behavior or a barrier can count.
  • Awareness or harm: You were aware of the confinement at the time or harmed by it. For example, if someone locks you in a room while you’re asleep, and you only find out about it later, that can still be false imprisonment if you suffer harm as a result.
  • No legal justification: The person who imprisoned you had no legal reason to do so. They weren’t a police officer arresting you on reasonable grounds, for example.

Defenses against false imprisonment claims

In a false imprisonment case, the person or entity you’re suing might devise defenses to justify their actions. Knowing these in advance can better prepare us for what’s to come. Here are some common defenses they might use:

  • Consent: If the defendant can prove that you consented to the confinement, it could undermine your claim. However, remember that you must have given your consent freely. If someone deceived or coerced you, it’s not valid consent.
  • Legal Authority: A common defense claims that the person had legal authority to confine you. Police officers or security personnel often use this argument, claiming they had reasonable grounds to detain you.
  • Privilege: In some instances, the defendant might argue that they acted within their rights or responsibilities. For example, a store owner could argue they had a reasonable belief you were shoplifting and, therefore, had the right to detain you temporarily.
  • Self-Defense or Defense of Others: If the person can demonstrate they confined you to protect themselves or someone else from immediate harm, they could use this as a defense.

However, remember, defenses aren’t bulletproof. Just because someone claims one of these defenses doesn’t mean they’re off the hook. Our team of dedicated attorneys will be there to challenge these defenses and advocate for your rights.

Proving intentional conduct in false imprisonment cases

Proving someone intentionally confined you is critical in a false imprisonment case. You can accomplish this by providing direct evidence like a recorded admission or written communication from the person who detained you. If direct evidence isn’t available, you can use circumstantial evidence instead. This might include showing that the person who confined you took deliberate steps leading up to the act, like locking a door and hiding the key. Witnesses who saw the event can also provide valuable testimony to support your case. Finally, if the person has a history of similar behavior, this pattern can suggest they acted intentionally in your case.

If someone infringed on your freedom and wrongfully imprisoned you, our firm will help you fight for compensation. Call (312) 261-6193 today or complete our contact form for a free consultation.

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