Personal Injury: Negligent or Intentional?

The acts of one party that have caused harm to another party are generally classified as torts in civil lawsuits. A majority of cases involve personal injury and/or property damage, and explore the question of whether the tort was "negligent" or "intentional."

For an injured party to prove negligence it must be shown that the offending party (defendant) had a "duty" of care toward others, and their actions were not what a reasonably prudent person would have done (or not done) in similar circumstances. It must also be shown that your personal injuries were caused by the defendant's negligent (careless) act.

If, however, the defendant had the mindset to harm another "on purpose," then the resulting tort could be classified as intentional. Examples of intentional torts could be assault and battery, false imprisonment, slander, libel and fraud.

Consider the following set of circumstances:

You are driving and a car hits your vehicle from behind. Your car is pushed into a ditch and you sustain personal injuries as well as damage to your vehicle. The driver is texting. This might be pursued as a negligence case to prove that the texting driver is liable for damages.

In another scenario, you are also hit from behind while driving. This driver, however, is cursing and honking their horn because you unexpectedly pulled in front of them in traffic. They follow closely behind your car and bump you into the ditch. The other driver's actions in this case could be considered intentional.

In either situation, the party that caused harm to you will likely be held liable for damages.

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