Paintball injury: Does Insurance Have to Pay?
It should go without saying that shooting someone in the eye with a paintball gun or any other weapon is a really bad idea. But for some strange reason we have this form of entertainment. To make matters worse, children are particularly inclined to engage in this activity. So what happens when someone sustains a paintball injury? Does insurance have to pay for this?
Recently a judge in Delaware Superior Court decided that State Farm Insurance does not have to indemnify a policyholder in a paintball injury lawsuit. The ruling, reported by CBS News, is based on a provision in the policy that excludes coverage for expected or intended bodily harm. Let's consider.
Chad Wilkerson and Ethan Joseph were friends. They were playing at Gumboro Community Center one day when Chad left the center to go to Walmart and buy a paintball gun. Another friend gave him a ride. When they returned from the store, Chad called his friends over to the car and aimed his gun at them. He shot Joseph in the eye.
The court's decision contains testimony from the child about his intentions. Chad himself said he wanted to hit any one of the boys, not Joseph particularly, and not in the eye, in order to convince his friends to play paintball. So Chad in his own words admitted his intent was to hit one of his friends.
Insurance Liability Exception: Intentional Conduct
According to the court, the facts are straightforward and undisputed: Chad intended and expected to hit one of the kids. Even if he did not intend to cause injury, he knew that there could be injury from this action. Because Chad knew the paintball could hurt someone and fired anyway, causing serious injury to Ethan's eye, the judge agreed with the insurance company that this conduct fell under the liability exception in the State Farm homeowner's insurance policy held by the Wilkerson family.
Dismissing the Wilkerson's family motion for summary judgment, and granting that of the insurance company, the judge wrote, "I certainly agree with State Farm that this type of intentional conduct that creates a substantial probability of injury to another person is excluded from the homeowner's insurance policy that it issued to Chad's parents."
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