Intentional Torts — Insurance Not Applicable

Automobile insurance typically pays the victim for his/her damages. However, other types of insurance such as homeowner’s and renter’s insurance do not cover intentional acts, meaning they do not pay the victim for intentional acts committed against the victim, with a few exceptions.

Intentional acts relating to assault, false imprisonment, and intentional trespass typically are not covered under most insurance policies. Thereby, the victim is not compensated for the wrongdoer’s acts. However, the wrongdoer’s intentional acts result in his/her individual responsibility for the victim’s damages.

Assault by an intentional wrongdoer, such as hitting or striking, which results in injuries to the victim presents other problems that prevent recovery to the victim. Frequently the intentional tort of assault involves the defense of self-defense or the question of who started the fight, and often the evidence will be conflicting testimony, making it the responsibility of the Court to determine which of the parties has expressed the more believable testimony.

Setting a property on fire versus not containing or managing burning leaves (a negligent act) which results in damages to the victim may be covered by homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. Remember that the wrongdoer is still individually responsible to the victim whether the wrongful negligent or intentional acts against the victim are covered by insurance or not.

False imprisonment may involve restraining a boyfriend or girlfriend against their will, mistakenly arresting and restraining the wrong person, restraining an individual for shoplifting when the individual did not shoplift, or detaining a delirious patient who needs to be kept in a nursing home when the patient states he/she needs to “go home”.

Trespassing on your neighbor’s property may be intentional or negligent. The facts for each act must be evaluated. If the acts are determined to be negligent and if there is an insurance policy in place to cover negligent acts, the victim may be compensated for the injuries. In trespass cases, there may be accompanying acts of malicious destruction of property. The law permits you to cut tree branches that reach beyond your neighbor’s property onto your property so long as you do the cutting of the branches reasonably. Breaking the branches with one’s hands instead of using a garden tool may result in a poor appearance of the tree/branch and may then be considered malicious destruction of property. Another example of malicious destruction of property is in a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship where one party finds out that the other has been unfaithful and so then throws out of a second floor window personal property of the alleged wrongdoer. The property being dropped two floors below may be in part or wholly destroyed.

If the wrongdoer has no insurance, most lawyers will not represent him/her unless the wrongdoer has visible assets sufficient to pay a court judgment. This is usually true where the lawyer handles the attorney’s fee based on a percentage of the recovery.

Fred Antenberg has over 30 years’ experience in negligence and intentional torts in Howard County and surrounding counties of Baltimore and Central Maryland. Prior success or recoveries does not mean you will recover for the injuries you have suffered. Call Fred for a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION at 410-730-4404.