Copyright 1965, American Law Institute

Division One - Intentional Harms to Persons, Land, and Chattels
Chapter 1 - Meaning of Terms Used Throughout the Restatement of Torts


 The word "intent" is used throughout the Restatement of this Subject to denote that the actor desires to cause consequences of his act, or that he believes that the consequences are substantially certain to result from it.


a.  "Intent," as it is used throughout the Restatement of Torts, has reference to the consequences of an act rather than the act itself. When an actor fires a gun in the midst of the Mojave Desert, he intends to pull the trigger; but when the bullet hits a person who is present in the desert without the actor's knowledge, he does not intend that result. "Intent" is limited, wherever it is used, to the consequences of the act.

b.  All consequences which the actor desires to bring about are intended, as the word is used in this Restatement. Intent is not, however, limited to consequences which are desired. If the actor knows that the consequences are certain, or substantially certain, to result from his act, and still goes ahead, he is treated by the law as if he had in fact desired to produce the result. As the probability that the consequences will follow decreases, and becomes less than substantial certainty, the actor's conduct loses the character of intent, and becomes mere recklessness, as defined in § 500. As the probability decreases further, and amounts only to a risk that the result will follow, it becomes ordinary negligence, as defined in § 282. All three have their important place in the law of torts, but the liability attached to them will differ.


1. A throws a bomb into B's office for the purpose of killing B. A knows that C, B's stenographer, is in the office. A has no desire to injure C, but knows that his act is substantially certain to do so. C is injured by the explosion. A is subject to liability to C for an intentional tort.

2. On a curve in a narrow highway A, without any desire to injure B, or belief that he is substantially certain to do so, recklessly drives his automobile in an attempt to pass B's car. As a result of this recklessness, A crashes into B's car, injuring B. A is subject to liability to B for his reckless conduct, but is not liable to B for any intentional tort.

REPORTERS NOTES:  This section has been added to the first Restatement, in place of the former Comment d to § 13. The rule as to substantially certain consequences is stated in Garratt v. Dailey, 46 Wash. 2d 197, 279 P.2d 1091 (1955), second appeal, 49 Wash. 2d 499, 304 P.2d 681 (1956), and in Burr v. Adam Eidemiller, Inc., 386 Pa. 416, 126 A.2d 403 (1956).

Illustration 2 is supported by Hackenberger v. Travelers Mutual Casualty Co., 144 Kan. 607, 62 P.2d 545 (1936); Cook v. Kinzua Pine Mills Co., 207 Ore. 34, 293 P.2d 717 (1956).