When will insurance pay for injuries if two students get into a fight? Keep in mind that there is usually no coverage when injury is expected or intended by the insured person who causes injury. This is called the “intentional acts&rdq
uo; exclusion. Here are two scenarios that illustrate what is often a fine line between coverage and no coverage.
Scenario 1: Jim, 14 years old, is a bully. He has been teasing Mark, 13 years old, and challenges him to a fight after school. To prove he is not a “wuss,” Mark accepts the challenge. During the course of the ensuing fight, Mark pushes Jim, and Jim breaks his leg as a result. Jim sues Mark for damages. Will Mark’s insurance company cover him?
Scenario 2: Tara and Morgan, both 17 year old girls, have been verbally sparring over a boy for a while. One day, Tara says something to Morgan in class. Morgan responds that Tara should sit down, or she will punch her in the face. When Tara doesn’t sit down, Morgan follows through by punching her several times. Morgan then has to be pulled off Tara, as Morgan continues to pummel and kick Tara. When Tara sues Morgan for her injuries, is Morgan’s insurance company required to pay?
The answers: Insurance pays in Scenario 1, but not in Scenario 2. In the first case, Mark was found not to have entered the situation with intent to injure Jim, but rather with nothing more than intent to cause passing discomfort. On the other hand, when Morgan began to hit Tara, she could have had no intention other than causing bodily harm. She did not have to have intent to cause the specific harm ultimately suffered by Tara; as long as harm was intended or substantially certain, the intentional act exclusion applies.
These situations are always fact specific. While the law may seem clear, it is often difficult to apply it to different facts. For example, the outcome in Scenario #2 above might have been different if Tara used certain provocative, racially offensive, or other demeaning words in taunting or insulting Morgan.
That’s why it’s good to consult an attorney. Even better to not get into such situations in the first place!