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Transferred Intent - Civil Law

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Transferred Intent - Civil Law

Intentional injuries are (as the name implies) caused when one person intentionally harms another.  In order for a person to be liable for an intentional injury, there must be intent to cause the specific injury. There are five injury causes of action, however, where the intention to cause a specific injury may be transferred if one of the other five injuries occurs. 

The Concept of Transferred Intent

Transferred intent applies to five intentional injury causes of action: assault, battery, false imprisonment, trespass to land and trespass to chattel. Under transferred intent, the intention to commit one of the following causes of action can result in liability for one of the other five causes of action if one should occur. 

For example, if person A swings a bat at person B (assault) and instead of hitting person B, hits person B's car and shatters the windshield, then person A would be liable under trespass to chattel for the damage caused to person B's car even though he only intended the assault and not the trespass to chattel.

What Is the Purpose of Transferred Intent?

Transferred intent permits the intent requirement of one of the five intentional causes of action to satisfy the intent requirement of the other. Thus, the proving of intent for an injury caused unintenionally is bypassed because the intent to cause one results in liability should one of the other five occur.

Does Transferred Intent Transfer to Different Parties?

Yes.  In addition to transferring from one of the five causes of action to another, transferred intent allows the intent to transfer from one victim to another. Therefore, if person A swings a bat with the intent to hit person B, but instead hits person C, person A would be liable in battery to person C even though there was never an intention to hit person C.

Does Transferred Intent Apply to All Intentional Injuries?

No. Transferred intent can only apply to the five intentional injuries listed above. 

Should I Contact an Attorney?

If you have suffered an intentional injury, seeking out an injury attorney will assist in gaining recovery for your injury. If you believe that transferred intent exists, however, let your attorney know because any information about the intent of the person causing the injury will help in resolving your case.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 07-27-2015 03:26 PM PDT

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