Negligence V. Assault and Battery

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What is “negligence?” What is “Assault and Battery?” What is the difference and why does it matter? When you are an MMA fighter, you expect to get hit while in the octagon; but what about while trying to leave the arena in a bus?

Negligence is the failure to take proper care in doing something. For example, a driver may be negligent in hitting a pedestrian because: he failed to observe the pedestrian; was speeding, or failed to yield the right of way.

“Assault and Battery” is the act of intentionally striking another person. If you intentionally run someone over with your car, you have committed an assault and battery. If criminal charges are brought, the criminal charge would be called an “Assault”. If the victim sued in Civil Court, the intentional act would be called a “Battery.”

As stated in the case of Chiesa v. McGregor, “Although the same act may constitute battery or negligence depending upon whether or not it was intentional, there cannot be recovery for both.” "Negligence is distinguished from assault and battery by the absence of that intent which is a necessary ingredient of the latter.”

Michael Chiesa sued Conor McGregor, both of whom are professional mixed martial artist (MMA) competitors, after Chiesa suffered injuries when McGregor threw a hand truck at a bus on which Chiesa was present, breaking a window and causing the handle of the hand truck and glass from the shattered window to strike Chiesa causing, among other things, facial injuries. The incident occurred at a loading dock of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Because McGregor intentionally threw the hand truck at the bus with the intention to cause damage and injury, he committed an Assault and Battery. Besides the throwing of the hand truck that was the basis of the assault claims, Chiesa also alleged that McGregor threw other objects at the bus, attempted to board the bus, prevented the bus from moving, kicked the bus, and yelled threats and expletives. Accordingly, a cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress was also proper.

There are consequences as to whether an act is found to be intentional or negligent. For example, most insurance policies provide coverage for a negligent act, but not for an intentional act. Also, punitive damages may be awarded as a result of someone intentionally causing harm, but not for a negligent act, unless the negligence was wanton or gross. An intentional act is far more likely to result in a criminal charge than a negligent action. Significantly, the statute of limitations—the time you have to start a lawsuit—is three years for a negligent act, but as short as one year for certain intentional acts.

The law firm of Zalman, Schnurman, & Miner is experienced in handling all kinds of tort cases. All consultations are free and each case is handled on a contingency fee basis. For a free consultation call 1-800-LAWLINE (1-800-529-5463) or email

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