Road Rage: Intentional Tort or a Case of Negligence?

Americans purchase auto insurance to financially protect themselves in the event that they are involved in an automobile collision, with the liability portion of that insurance coverage meant to protect a driver’s own financial assets should they cause an accident that results in personal injury to another person. However, most of us are unaware of what exactly happens when a driver intentionally causes an automobile accident.

Usually, insurance companies include exclusions in their automobile insurance policies for acts that are deemed intentional. Typical types of intentional torts in personal injury claims include such as assault, battery, or intentional infliction of emotional distress. Conversely, auto insurance policies do cover accidents that are caused by negligence, which makes up the vast majority of all auto accident cases.

Road Rage and Intentional Torts vs. Negligence

Negligence is usually defined as a failure to exercise reasonable care that a prudent person would exercise in a similar situation. An example of a negligent action in an auto accident is a driver’s failure to yield at a red light or failing to signal before changing lanes. 

Because road rage incidents are considered intentional torts, the at-fault driver’s insurance company generally will not provide coverage for their tort feasor. As a public policy measure, insurance companies do not cover intentional torts because then their clients could commit crimes and have their insurance company cover their damages. As a policy matter, it is beneficial to society to deter individuals from intentionally attacking each other. 

Because auto insurance companies rarely cover their client when they have committed an intentional tort, attorneys are reluctant to bring a cause of action against the defendant unless they are convinced the defendant has sufficient resources to pay for the damages that they caused. In some instances, attorneys may be able to argue that the defendant’s actions were negligent, rather than an intentional act therefore extending coverage to their client.

How Insurance Companies Use Intentional Acts to Dispute Liability

On the other hand, insurance companies sometimes will argue that their client intentionally caused the accident in order to escape liability. Either way, intentional actions that cause personal injury can be extremely difficult to pursue unless you hire an attorney that understands the intricacies of insurance law and different types of coverage available.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of an accident caused by a driver’s intentional actions, call the Davis Law Group, P.S. for a free legal consultation to go over your legal rights. Mr. Davis has more than twenty years of experience handling disputes with insurance companies after a person has suffered significant personal injuries as a result of a car accident.

Contact Davis Law Group online here or call our office today at 206-727-4000 to have your case reviewed by Mr. Davis and our award-winning personal injury team.

Chris Davis
Top-rated, award-winning, attorney practicing wrongful death & serious injury law in Seattle.
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