‘Negligent’ conduct is not the same as ‘intentional’

A negligent person does not necessarily mean to injure someone. However, he or she is so careless that his or her actions cause the injuries to occur. Think of a drunk driver who gets into a serious wreck that puts another person in the hospital. The driver did not drink and drive with the intention of injuring the victim or anyone at all. Still, the act of driving while impaired made the crash a likely result.

Of course, if the defendant did act to intentionally harm the plaintiff, he or she is still liable for the plaintiff’s damages. Intentionality is a higher legal hurdle to prove than negligence.

Readers have likely heard the story of the woman charged with purposefully driving her car into a crowd of pedestrians on a Las Vegas sidewalk. Prosecutors say the woman intended to kill and injure people with her actions, and they have charged her with murder and hit-and-run, among other things. One person was killed and dozens more were injured, according to the Associated Press.

Few personal injury claims arising out of a motor vehicle crash involve a driver using his or her car as a weapon. Instead, most drivers sued for damages are accused of acting carelessly or recklessly. In Pennsylvania, negligence is enough to hold someone financially responsible for harm.