Ryan Dempster, a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox,   nailed Alex Rodriguez, a New York Yankee with a wild pitch recently.  Sometimes even major league pitchers throw wild pitches. Sometimes they are on purpose and sometimes they are not.  They can control a fastball  well enough to throw  a strike over the corner of a home plate 60’6″  away.  After the second wild pitch  the home plate Umpire had seen enough. He was convinced the second bad throw was intentional and ejected Dempster from the game.  He decided the Boston Red Sox pitcher intended to throw at and hit Rodriguez “on purpose.” The story helps explain the the difference between negligence  and intentional injuries.

Negligence is when the actor does not live up to a standard of conduct which most people follow, and then caused harm to someone else.  In baseball the pitcher goes by certain rules, one of which is you can’t throw at the batter, on purpose.  Having caused Rodriguez to be hit by the fastball, on purpose, Dempster is legally at fault for intentional misconduct.  If  A-Rod wanted to press criminal charges it would be up to the Prosecutor to decide whether to charge  Dempster with battery, or not.  Or it would be up to Rodriguez to file civil charges (sue) Dempster for battery. But A-Rod could not sue for “negligence.”

The difference between negligence and intentional acts is important for insurance companies.  An insurance policy cannot be issued for protection against intentional misconduct, only negligence.  In a bar fight, when someone gets hurt and wants to sue the other guy, this insurance rule really means that since there is no deep pocket to go after, the at fault person will not get sued. In the baseball example I assume Dempster has plenty of cash to pay any damages to A-Rod so the insurance issue is  not important.

Young kids are not held to the same high standard of adults.  Even some adults are not held to the same standard of other adults:  A layman is not expected to know all as much as a nurse, paramedic or doctor.  So if they try to help someone in a medical emergency they are not as responsible as a doctor trying to help. Not stopping for a red light, driving a commuter train at 100mph+ into a dangerous curve, causing it to derail,  allowing floors to remain wet and slippery are a few examples of “negligence.”  But the line gets blurred when sports events are involved.  What about a boxing match? Or sports like hockey or football or rugby?  Physical contact is part of the game, right?

So the moral of the story is the act causing harm may be accidental or it may be on purpose.  Negligence cases are the ones causing injury that are not meant to cause harm, and are covered by insurance.



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