Negligence and Torts

As mentioned earlier a tort is a wrongdoing of one person against another. Torts can be intentional in nature or they can be unintentional. Unintentional torts are caused generally by negligence. Intentional torts are caused when someone intends to cause injury or harm to someone else. Insurance contract is designed to cover claims of negligence but it specifically excludes coverage for intentional Acts. This means if you intentionally cause harm to somebody there is no coverage for any claims they might pursue. Individuals who are guilty of committing an intentional tort against to someone else and who are sued will have to pay any damages out of their own pocket. Intentional torts are considered uninsurable because for something to be insurable there must be at least a fighting chance that the occurrence will not happen. This is the basis of insurance underwriting. The underwriter’s job is to try to select risks that are least likely to produce claims.

The courts have confused the issue of intentional torts somewhat. There have been judgments stating that an intentional act resulted in an unintended consequence. As an example, imagine that a man shoots another man with a gun. Imagine also that the man who was shot sues the shooter for negligence. If the shooter intentionally shot the victim, there would be no insurance coverage. However if the complainant says that the shooter negligently shot in his direction and the bullets struck the plaintiff accidentally, insurance coverage could be triggered. So how do you decide if an act was intentional? One way to do it is through statements made by the tortfeasor. If that individual admits that they intended to kill or harm them that could be enough. In most cases, this issue will be considered an issue of fact, which means that it needs to be determined by a jury.

There is another class of intentional torts that relate to personal injury claims. Personal injury or reputation claims result when someone’s character is maligned. This is usually done through statements or publications made by someone else. These types of claims are covered under a policy that is written to cover those specific risks. Umbrella policies usually contain language that allows for coverage of personal injury claims. This would include claims such as libel and slander. They fall under the category of intentional torts. Defamatory statements that a person makes against another can be very harmful to their reputation. In some cases, this reputation damage can severely limit their ability to earn an income. If the statements are false, that is defamation. When defamation occurs, it is compensable under the law.

My next book will cover Liability Adjusting. If you are interested in this career you will want to get a copy. Sign up for my mailing list so I can let you know when it is ready.

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