A Civil Case of Assault and Battery

Posted by on Apr 14, 2013 in Assault, Battery, Personal Injury | 3 comments

Assault and/or battery are criminal acts that may also be considered civil torts (wrongs) that can be the basis for lawsuit in civil court pursuing compensation. Most personal injury cases are accidental torts wherein the negligence of the defendant caused injury to the plaintiff, but there was no intention of harm. Assault and battery, on the other hand, are intentional torts. The objective was to cause physical harm, or at least to threaten it. A personal injury lawyer with experience handling assault or battery claims may be able to protect your rights and help you in your pursuit of compensation and justice.

A case of assault does not always mean there is also a case for battery, and vice versa, although the two torts often go together as a matter of course. Below is a brief description of how the civil code defines assault and battery.

Assault in a civil tort sense doesn’t have to involve actual physical force from the defendant to the plaintiff. It has only to be proved that the defendant expressed intent to do harm and had the capability of carrying out such intent, leading to the reasonable fear of the plaintiff of imminent physical harm.

Battery, on the other hand, does require some type of forceful physical contact delivered offensively, without the plaintiff’s consent i.e. participation in a contact sport. It doesn’t matter if the contact was accidental as long as the intent of the defendant to do harm was evident.

To illustrate, let’s say that Tom’s large neighbor confronts him on the street and tells Tom before witnesses that if he doesn’t get his dog to stop barking, he will kill Tom. That can be considered assault but not battery. If the neighbor escalates the encounter by grabbing Tom by the collar and shaking him, then can be a case for civil assault and battery. But if the neighbor throws a rock at Tom’s car as it passed by and hits Tom instead, that is a case of battery but not assault, as Tom had little or no apprehension of danger prior to being hit by the rock.

A personal injury lawyer may be able to help a victim secure compensation for damage to property, bodily harm, medical expenses, and loss of income as a direct result of the injuries sustained. However, since assault and battery are also criminal offenses, the case may also be handled in a criminal court.

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