• Kenneth Powell

Property Owner Intentional Torts

Everyone will look to defend their house in case of a burglary. They may try to scare off the intruder, and sometimes the situation might even escalate, and the burglar can get hurt. If that should happen, the invaders can sue for an intentional tort. But what are property owners intentional torts, and what can people do if they face this charge? This article will give answers to this question and provide relevant information.

What Is a Tort?

What Is a Tort?

A tort is a term that describes an act of one person causing harm to others or their possessions. Various actions are considered torts, and there are generally many subcategories. However, they are most commonly divided into intentional and unintentional torts.

Firstly, there are the unintentional ones. As the name suggests, the person has no intent to hurt individuals, rather it happens accidentally. In legal language, this type of tort results from the perpetrator's negligence.

On the other hand, there are intentional torts. In these situations, individuals plan out an attack on someone or something and perform it while being fully aware of their wrongdoing.

However, sometimes it can be hard to draw a line between the two. A person can perform an intentional tort without meaning to do so. For example, someone might want to scare a person who happens to have heart problems, and that scare might trigger a heart attack. This act will then classify as an intentional tort even though the person did not mean harm.

Most Common Intentional Tort Claims

Many actions can fall under the term tort, but the most common ones include the following.


Any physical attack on an individual is considered battery in Missouri. This includes firing a gun at a person, attacking them with a knife or other objects, or simply hitting them. Sexual battery also belongs to this category.


An assault is considered any threat or attempt of battery. For example, if an attacker holds a knife to someone's throat but doesn't do anything else, it still qualifies as assault.

Intentionally Inflicting Emotional Distress

This tort is perhaps the most difficult one to prove in court. Victims who file this claim must prove that someone acted in an extreme measure with intent to frighten them. They must also provide evidence that this act, in particular, caused severe distress or hurt them in any other way. As this is very hard to prove, the court is very cautious in such cases.

False Imprisonment

False imprisonment entails violating someone's right to freedom of movement. While the police have the right to detain people under suspicion of a crime, property owners generally have no such jurisdiction.

What Can Lead to an Intentional Tort Charge for Property Owners in Missouri?

In situations where an intruder enters someone's house, and the owner starts chasing them away can pose serious problems to the latter. If the owner hurts the intruder in the chase to protect their property, they can sue the owner. So, what are the options of property owners when facing an intentional tort charge?

Affirmative Defense

The first step any property owner should take is not to deny the charges. They should admit to the allegations against them but also state they had a valid reason for such action. Some actions that can justify an intentional tort are self-defense, defense of the property, necessity, and consent.

What Does Defense of Property Mean?

Defense of property involves a person protecting their land and everything on it. With this in mind, the defendant can claim that they hurt the intruder, but for the sole reason of defending their property which is their right.

Also, it's important to note that defending the property includes many scenarios. First, the owners have the right to protect the house itself. And secondly, they may prevent anyone from taking their personal belongings from inside the house.

What Can Owners Do to Protect Their Property?

Property owners in Missouri have more limitations on protecting their houses than on protecting themselves. But they are still legally allowed to prevent anyone from invading their home.

People can use reasonable amounts of force when defending their property and personal items, and some states even allow the use of deadly force.

However, the law doesn't allow anyone to use force in retaining their belongings while trespassing. This means that an owner can't go into a neighbor's house and threaten the tenants inside to return an item they refused to give back.

For accidents that take place within somebody's property, consult experienced St Louis slip and fall lawyers to help you handle the case. We also cater to other clients such as those who experience slip and fall accidents in Missouri during winter.

If you are not sure what constitutes a dangerous condition regarding slip and fall cases, you may get in touch with us to know more.