Assault and/or Battery
Most personal injury lawsuits are filed over accidents -- like a slip and fall or a car crash. But, in some cases, the action that caused the harm was intentional rather than accidental. In the context of personal injury law, "assault" and "battery" are intentional torts (wrongs) that can form the basis of a lawsuit in civil court. In a typical civil, personal injury assault and battery case, the victim of an assault and, or battery sues the offender, seeking compensation for injuries and other damages stemming from the incident. Of course, one may also be prosecuted in criminal court for committing the offense of assault and battery. However, this section of this website concerns personal injury law and thus primarily concerns the civil wrong (tort) of assault and battery, although we do briefly cite the differences in the two. For more in-depth information on the criminal offenses of assault and, or battery, see the 'Criminal Defense' sections of this website.
What kind of conduct amounts to "assault" in a personal injury case, and what exactly is a "battery"? Herein, we try to define civil assault and battery, highlight key issues in lawsuits involving the two and briefly explain the differences between criminal and civil cases involving assault and battery.
If you are the victim of assault and, or battery, you may be entitled to receive compensation for any injuries, both to pay medical bills and other costs caused by the assault and, or battery, and for any pain, suffering and emotional distress you may have or be experiencing.
In a personal injury case, 'assault' is usually defined as any intentional act that is meant to cause a "reasonable apprehension of imminent and harmful contact" -- that is, an action that made someone (the victim) expect that they were about to be hurt or, at least, touched in a harmful way by another (the offender). 'Fear' and or 'intimidation' are not required. Hence, one can be a victim of assault because they are in apprehension of, or they expect, imminent and harmful contact notwithstanding their knowledge that they can defend themselves or otherwise avoid the contact. In most states, that apprehension or fear of imminent harm -- as long as it is a reasonable response to the situation -- is all that is necessary in order for an intentional act to be considered an assault along as the act caused the above described apprehension.
For example, in California, a personal injury lawsuit for assault could arise in these types of situations:
• Don cocks his fist in Paula face and tells her "I'm going to punch your lights out."
• Debra points a toy gun at Portia in order to scare her. The fake firearm looks like the real thing, and Portia believes Debra is actually going to shoot her.
• Pete is crossing the street at a crosswalk. Dion approaches the intersection in his car and accelerates, wanting to make Pete think he's about to get hit. Dion brakes at the last minute, stopping the car just a few feet from Pete.
Keep in mind that, as the above examples demonstrate, no actual contact or touching is necessary in order for the intentional tort of assault to take place. It is the threat that matters. In fact, if contact does occur between the offender and the victim the action no longer produces assault alone but the intentional tort of "battery" also comes into play.
In California, the intentional tort of "battery" exists when a person commits the act of harmful or offensive contact with another person. The act was intentional and the act actually caused the harmful or offensive contact.
For a battery to take place, the contact by the offender and the resulting harm to the victim can be:
• Direct and immediate (for example, Don pushes Paula)
• Indirect and immediate (for example, Debra hits Paula with a thrown baseball.), or
• Indirect and remote (for example, Dion sets a sling-trap that snaps and hits Pete in the face the next day.).
It’s important to note that the victim does not actually need to be physically harmed in order for a battery to take place under civil law. All that is required is that the contact be offensive or inappropriate (to a reasonable person) and that the offender meant for it to take place.
Transfer Intent. Concerning assault and battery, 'transferred intent' means that a person intends to assault or batter one person, but instead either, (i) commits a different tort (civil wrong) against that person, (ii) commits the same tort as intended but against a different person, or (iii) commits a different tort against a different person. In such cases, the intent to commit a tort (wrong) against one person is "transferred" to the other tort or to the other injured person. Thus, although the actor did not intent to harm the person who was actually harmed, the law treats him or her as if they did. For example, Jim swings a bat over Jack's head intending on frightening him but the bat slips from his hand and hits Sue standing 10 feet away. Jim's intent to frighten Jack is transferred to Sue and even though Jim did not intend on committing battery on Jack or anybody else, his conduct constitutes a battery on Sue.
The intentional torts of assault and battery often stem from one event, but that isn't always the case. It's possible for an assault to occur without battery and vice versa.
You May Be Eligible to Receive Damages
You may be able to recover economic and
non-economic damages. Generally speaking, economic damages are
those to replace money you have lost through expenditures or
lost earnings. Examples of these damages include, but are not
limited to, loss of earnings and future earning potential. In
addition, if there is an injury or death, economic damages
include medical expenses to be repaid to your healthcare
insurance company, Medicare, Medi-Cal or any other medical
treatment or care provider engaged on your behalf. Economic
damages also include those for expenses for treatment you are
expected to need in the future, along with out-of-pocket
payments for medical devices, prescriptions, transportation,
household assistance, and any other such expenses you have had
or may experience in the future. Of course, this is not an
exhaustive list. Non-economic damages are serious losses that
are more difficult to assign a dollar value, including pain,
suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement,
mental anguish, and loss of quality of life.
When it comes to injuries, death or other damages, civil cases involving assault and battery can run the gamut of seriousness and thus lawsuits for assault and battery can vary widely in terms of damage awards. In cases where there was no harm (or very little) filing a lawsuit may not always be worth it in the long run, even though an assault or battery may have technically taken place. If on the other hand, you or a loved one are the victim of assault or, and battery and required hospitalization and extensive medical attention or suffered death, a personal injury lawsuit may be the best way for you to get reimbursement for medical bills and compensation for your pain and suffering.
If I Am the Victim of Assault and/or Battery, What Do I Do Next?
Contact the Lee Law Group if you are the victim
of assault and, or battery and we will assist you throughout
your entire ordeal. It is important to contact us, or some other
attorney, as soon as possible because if you eventually have to
file a lawsuit you must file it within a specified period of
time by law. This period of time, known as the ‘statute of
limitations’, could bar your case if you do not act in time.
Once you contact the Lee Law Group, we will first investigate the incident to determine if it is worth your time and effort to bring a lawsuit and if the perpetrator has any valid, potential defenses. Moreover, we will evaluate the damages they caused and the monetary value of these damages. If you are injured, we will work closely with your medical care providers or use one of the skilled specialists we associate with to ensure you obtain the best possible care.
Once we have a firm idea of the costs of your damages we will write a settlement demand letter to the person or company responsible for your assault and, or battery. At this point insurance companies may get involved even though this is considered an “intentional act” because often negligent or reckless decisions cause a perpetrator to act to cause the assault or battery. Negotiations with the offending person or company are required at this point. The Lee Law Group will conduct these negotiations until we have a settlement agreement that you can accept because final approval of any potential settlement rests with you, not the attorneys. Many cases are settled in this way. However, if the offending person or company refuses to offer a settlement that you can accept, we will file a lawsuit to obtain your compensation.
What Happens If I File a Lawsuit for Assault and/or Battery?
If the Lee Law Group is forced to file a lawsuit for assault and battery to obtain your just compensation we will litigate your case from start to finish explaining the process to you every step of the way. We will instruct you on what to do and when to do it, making the process as simple as possible. A great majority of cases are settled after filing a lawsuit without having to actually conduct a trial. However, if a trial is necessary we at the Lee Law Group are experienced in trial work and will energetically try your case.
If you are the victim of Assault And Battery, contact the Lee Law Group so we can fight for you.