Malice Definition Under Tennessee State Law

Under Tennessee state law, the definition of malice is the intent of one party to injure another without justification or cause. The state uses the term when a person or entity deliberately inflicts physical, mental, or financial damage on somebody else. The concept of malice appears in Tennessee and federal law in several areas:

Criminal law: The idea of malicious intent has been a part of Tennessee criminal law for centuries, often in situations involving a death. The presence of malice in a homicide case, for instance, can mean the difference between a murder charge and a lesser charge such as manslaughter.

Defamation: A ruling in a libel or defamation case will often depend on whether a plaintiff can prove a defendant spoke falsely about him with the intention to defame.

Injury law: The defendant’s intent can be an important factor in determining what damages a victim might receive. Since we handle accident and injury cases in the Knoxville area, we will focus on this aspect of malice.

How can I prove malice?

This will depend on the situation. The law recognizes two types of malice, each requiring different types of proof:

Express malice: When a defendant specifically indicates malicious intent through words or premeditated actions. For example, if an eyewitness sees the other driver purposefully rear-end you, we can argue malice.

Implied malice: When a defendant causes injury by committing an act that is illegal, a court can infer malice because of the nature of the act itself. For example, if the driver who caused your accident purposefully ran a red light, we can argue that this illegal act implies malice.

What damages can I receive if I am maliciously injured?

In a civil injury or accident case, you may be entitled to additional damages if we can prove that the defendant acted intentionally. Since malice is a mental state that motivates one individual to harm another, it can be hard to demonstrate, but we can review the details of your case to determine whether additional damages for malice are justifiable.

For example, if we prove another driver purposefully rear-ended you in a fit of anger, we can recover compensation for your:

  • Medical expenses: An injury inflicted by a malicious action can leave you with months or years of expenses for treatment and therapy.
  • Lost wages:The time you spend recovering from your injuries can mean missing work, benefits, and promotions.
  • Pain and suffering:This is a less straightforward type of damage that accounts for long-term reductions in your quality of life. If the defendant acted with malice, it may be easier to win noneconomic damages.
  • Punitive damages:These are additional damages awarded on top of the tangible calculations to provide an extra punishment for the defendant and a deterrent for others when the action is especially egregious. Since malice involves a willful intent to harm, we can make a strong case that you deserve punitive damages.

How can I get help with my malice case?

If you suffered injuries in a Knoxville accident and you believe it was because of somebody else’s malicious behavior, you may be entitled to damages that exceed your medical costs and lost wages. We will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Call the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril PLLC at 865-546-1111 for a free consultation about your case.