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Nowadays, different personal rights are violated from time to time. There are various laws that prevent torts as well as protect people from infringement of their rights. Some of the most common threats include: battery, assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, and defamation. All these tortes will be discussed in this paper.
A battery is an intentional tort that stands for offending or bringing harm to an individual through physical contact. It can take place either between the two people, namely a tortfeasor and a victim or between an object and a victim that is brought about by a tortfeasor. For example, it may be a case where the tortfeasor intentionally knocks someone with a car. Battery ranges from simple intentional contacts like flicking a person’s ear to very serious harm that results from physical abuse. A battery can be described as a form of trespass and thus one does not need to prove injury or damage of any kind. The only proof that is needed is the contact with intent.
Battery requires awareness of the complainant. The person complaining about the tort needs to be conscious of what happened to him or her at the time. If one is not conscious, they may not be able to prove if there was any form of contact at all. It is also important because the person needs to know who they complain about and able to establish the extent of a battery.
Assault is an intentional tort that does not require physical contact. It involves acting either with specific of general intent. It requires a certain level of apprehension, and one should be able to prove that such level could cause physical harm to the victim. The assault can be defined as an attempt to commit battery with the intent to cause physical damage. Assault does not necessarily need physical contact, the only things required to prove an assault case are intent and the apprehension that may result from it. Assault may take two forms. It entails threats to commit acts that may be harmful, which may cause psychological torture to a person. The actions are performed to inflict psychological fear of the impending violence in case it is done. Assault may also include actions that lead to fear as a result of threats emanating from a battery. Attempting assault may entail physical acts aimed at scaring an individual or making them feel afraid. Threats may also include verbal altercations that are directed to inflicting fear to the targeted party.
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED)
Also known as the tort of outrage, intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) refers to the deliberate acts that create extreme emotional disturbances to the affected person. Intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) has four major elements that can prove beyond doubt that the acts were performed. These actions must be reckless or intentional; extreme and outrageous; aimed at causing psychological damage to the victim; must have made the victim suffer from severe emotional disturbances.
Situation that leads to intentional infliction of emotional distress may need to be confirmed through observed distress that can be quantified using a number of factors, which may include but are not limited to duration of distress, physical harm resulting from distress, lack of productivity at work or at home, observable manifestation of distress, and mental disorder that can be proved through medical examination from a psychologist. Other measures that can be helpful in determining distress may also include extreme sadness, depression, anxiety, and anger that are associated with the actions mentioned above.
False imprisonment stands for restraining a person without his or her consent and any justification. It may involve an act that restricts a person’s movement without explaining any reasons to the captured person. This tort applies for both private and governmental detentions. Illegal detention by police, in this case, can qualify for the writ of habeas corpus, which would give the complainant the ability to file a complaint on the illegal arrest. False detention is, therefore, a very common issue. Some of the acts that may qualify into false imprisonment include hostage situation by criminals or terrorist, detention of a person over unpaid bills either in a supermarket, restaurant, or hotel, or arresting somebody for not paying rent for the apartment. Police detention may also qualify to be false imprisonment. This notion is, therefore, a very common activity that sometimes is committed consciously or unconsciously. At times, many people stop others from getting out of a particular place especially by the police. In many cases, the police detain individuals, especially, in cases of terrorism or sensitive security issues. Some of these people who are innocent may, therefore, feel that their rights were violated by such behavior and thus decide to take the necessary legal actions.
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Defamation refers to acts or utterances that are aimed at hurting one or putting in a bad light someone’s image or reputation. Statements or utterances that constitute defamation must have been false and made with the sole aim of destroying one’s reputation. The defaming statement must have also been made to another person other than the one who is defamed. A statement that qualifies to be defamation can be uttered verbally through speaking negatively about an individual or through the media. This term means that the information is published and put out for consumption by all members of the public. Defamation may take two forms, namely, slander and libel.
The tort of slander entails the publication in which the inflammatory or defaming statement is made and published in a spoken form. In these cases, the voice of a person making the statement can easily be heard and can, indeed, be proved. Slander can also contain the use of signs, gestures or sounds that are considered defamatory to the complainant. It may include recorded sounds, videos with sign languages, and sounds that are considered to be defamatory. Slander may include an action published or broadcasted on television or radio.
Libel is defamation by use of printed material such as a picture or written content that has information that is considered to be defaming to a person, organization, product or any other thing for that matter. With the growth of information, since the 17th century there appeared the growth of libel tort. Libel can include publications in the newspapers, books, journals, and magazines, among others. Libel, however, does not entail those materials that have sounds or gestures. They only focus on pictures and other written forms.
The landmark case of defamation in 1964 of New York Times versus Sullivan revolutionized the whole argument and the laws about defamation cases in the United States. The case that was filed in the United States Supreme Court provided a very important basis for which many cases are handled. New York Times versus Sullivan was a defamation case in which Sullivan, a United States politician, preferred charges against New York Times newspaper for publishing an article with defamatory content. At the court, there was a heated debate on whether it was appropriate for a public matter to be taken to the court considering that there was freedom of speech that made it possible for people to discuss all matters of public interests without any restrictions.
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During the case, the Supreme Court acknowledged that public figures could always make mistakes that might be subject to public scrutiny. The judges stated that if the mistakes made by such public figures were honest ones, then such errors needed to be protected from defamation. The court agreed that if there was any malice involved in publishing defaming statement against public persons, then they were at liberty to sue for defamation.
The court also stated that the newspaper or any other means of communication that published information needed to verify that information beyond a reasonable doubt. In cases where the publisher knew the information they printed was not true but sill went ahead to publicize it, then it would be a case of defamation. It, therefore, meant that those people publishing information had to ensure that whatever information they print was true.
Human rights are very important values protected by the constitution. It is, however, significant to realize that even as individuals protect their personal rights, they should not allow themselves to do things that infringe the rights of other. This rule has to be observed because all people are protected by the same laws. Abuse of the personal right of other people is not acceptable; intentional acts that may cause harm to others be it psychological, emotional or physical, should thus be prevented at all accost within the confines of the law.
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