Domestic Violence Torts: Righting a Civil Wrong
65 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2014 Last revised: 14 Oct 2014
Date Written: June 10, 2014
Tort law, especially personal injury law, has become an integral aspect of American society. Domestic violence injuries – including physical injury, pain and suffering, and death – have been conspicuously absent from the development of tort law. The common law history of chastisement, coverture, and spousal immunity contributed to the current dearth of domestic violence tort claims. Today tort law offers a number of underused claims that can be used to address domestic violence harms. Victims can use existing common law causes of action – such as battery, assault, and intentional infliction of emotional distress – to sue their abusers for abusive conduct. Specific causes of action for domestic and gender-motivated violence also offer ready remedies to victims of domestic violence. Through these actions, victims can achieve financial compensation for harm, obtain therapeutic outcomes, and seek deterrence of the abuser’s conduct. Domestic violence tort claims should be pursued aggressively and frequently and should become a prominent approach to addressing domestic violence.
Keywords: tort law, domestic violence, gender-motivated violence, assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, therapeutic jurisprudence
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