Sometimes a criminal act can also have financial consequences. That's what can happen with assault and battery. A bar fight can land participants in jail. But it can also land them in civil court with a lawsuit seeking payment for injuries.
This article will define assault and battery law from the plaintiff's perspective ... that is, the person who suffered an injury. It will explain the nature of the crime and how an injured person can recover money for their injuries with a civil lawsuit.
What is Assault and Battery?
Assault and battery are two separate criminal acts, although they often occur together.
An assault is a convincing threat of imminent bodily harm. It could be a verbal threat with some action that signifies intent to do harm, like raising a knife or picking up a baseball bat. Or it could be a threatening gesture without words, like pointing a gun at someone.
In order to be an assault, the threat must cause apprehension in the victim. The person making the threat must be doing so intentionally or recklessly. Furthermore, any reasonable person would feel that the words and actions are a threat of bodily harm.
Battery follows assault. It is the act of intentional contact or offensive physical contact. So, assault and battery could be the threat to punch someone and then punching someone.
Offensive contact could also be unwanted sexual contact. The person may have made a sexually suggestive comment that caused the victim to feel concerned for their safety. If they then backed the victim into a corner and fondled them, that would be battery.
Civil Assault Lawsuit Requires a Civil Attorney
Assault and battery is a criminal act. The perpetrator will likely face criminal charges and criminal penalties, including jail time. They will need a criminal defense lawyer.
Assault and battery is also an "intentional tort." That is, a civil wrong. It can form the basis of a personal injury lawsuit. Victims can sue perpetrators for money damages to compensate the victim for the harm they suffered.
Seeking Damages in an Assault and Battery Case
The first element of a civil case for assault and battery is proving that the crime occurred. The attorney for victims of battery will need to prove that the perpetrator acted with intent. Then they must prove the threat caused apprehension or fear in their client.
Attorneys with experience in assault and battery cases will know how to prove the amount of fear an assault caused or the severity of the damage a battery caused. Evidence like police reports, medical records, and therapy records can help prove injury. Evidence of medical bills, rehabilitation services, medical equipment and drugs, and time off work document the cost of the injury.
Victims of crimes who suffer lasting harm, such as a brain injury or spinal cord injury, have a right to payment of future medical bills and loss of income.
Even if you suffered nominal damages from the assault, you could still sue for money damages in civil court. The criminal charge of battery only requires that touching be nonconsensual. In cases of unwanted sexual contact, this will be the element to prove in court.
Some people who have the right to sue for battery do not receive much money. When non-consensual touching causes little or no lasting harm, courts may award as little as $1 to demonstrate that a wrong occurred. Victims may find satisfaction in knowing that the court agreed with them and found against the perpetrator. If the incident happened between coworkers, they may be able to bring this court ruling to HR to demand action.
When injuries are significant, the judge may order the perpetrator to pay for all of the proven victim damages.
Victims of Assault, Get Legal Help from an Assault and Battery Injury Lawyer
Victims of assault deserve compensation. Get the legal advice you need to preserve your rights to monetary compensation. Contact a personal injury attorney immediately to determine if you have a valid civil lawsuit.
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