Most accidents result from unintentional action, such as a fall down the stairs or a car accident. These are the most common causes of personal injury claims. However, the injury can result from a deliberate rather than an unintentional action. "Battery" and "assault" are deliberate wrongs (torts) that can be used to pursue a civil case under personal injury law. In most cases, the victim of an attack or battery sues the perpetrator, claiming compensation for damages and other losses sustained due to the act.

What exactly constitutes "assault" when handling a personal injury lawsuit, and what is a "battery"? This blog describes the deliberate wrongs of assault and battery, outlines major concerns in assault claims, and clarifies the distinctions between criminal and civil assault cases.

Defining Assault

The claim of assault in a personal injury lawsuit can be described as any deliberate act intended to provoke probable cause to believe there's an impending and harmful contact. That is an act of aggression that caused someone (the victim) to anticipate being hurt or, at the very least, touched in a negative way by some other person (the offender). In most places, concern or fear of impending injury is all that is required for a conduct to be regarded as an assault, provided it is a reasonable reaction to the situation.

In the following scenarios, a personal injury case for assault is likely to arise:

  • "I'll punch your eyes out," Bill says as he cocks his fist at Dan's face

  • Bill scares Dan by pointing a toy handgun at him. Dan fears Bill will shoot him since the imitation handgun appears natural

  • Dan is using a crosswalk to walk down the street. Bill speeds up as he approaches the junction, hoping to fool Dan into thinking he's about to hit him. Bill slams on the brakes at the very last possible moment, halting the car within a few steps from Dan

Take note that, as the preceding examples show, no direct interaction or touching is required for the deliberate act of assault to occur. What counts is the threat. In reality, if the defendant and the plaintiff make physical contact, the intentional tort of "battery" frequently comes up.

Understanding Battery

The intentional and illegal application of force or violence against someone else is "battery." It is not required to use considerable force to be a battery. All that matters is that the offender made deliberate, damaging, or offensive contact with the victim.

A battery can occur when the offender contacts the victim and the victim suffers harm due to the touch. the contact and resulting harm could be:

  • immediate and direct (like Bill pushing Dan)

  • immediate and indirect (for instance, Bill tossing a rock at Dan), or

  • indirect and distant (for example, Bill setting a trap that Dan falls into some days later)

It's worth noting that in civil law, the victim doesn't have to be physically wounded for it to be a battery. All that is required is for the contact between the offender and the victim to be offensive or indecent (to a rational individual), and the perpetrator intended it to happen.

The deliberate torts of battery and assault are frequently the result of a single event, but this is not always the case. An assault can occur without violence, for example, if Bill raises his fists threateningly but does not throw a punch. A battery could also occur in the absence of an assault. For example, if Bill pushes Dan from behind, that is almost certainly considered a battery in personal injury cases. A deliberate tort of assault, on the other hand, is unlikely to have occurred if Dan never saw Bill coming or felt any anxiety beforehand.

Pursuing Assault Charges in California

When you've been the victim of assault in California, you may be able to file assault charges against the perpetrator to recover financial damages. As long as the defendant attempted to inflict a violent injury on a victim or he did something that put you in a fearful position of being hurt, you can proceed with the civil case.

You can file your civil lawsuit without the need to pursue a criminal charge for the offense first. Those who have been assaulted, on the other hand, should seek medical assistance right away. Not only is it critical that a medical practitioner addresses any injuries you've incurred, but it's also an essential element of developing your claim against your attacker.

Medical records will be critical in your case, even though you believe your injuries were minor. You'll have access to your medical files as a patient, which you can give to your lawyer, who will defend you in the lawsuit against the individual who assaulted you.

You need to contact the local police to submit a formal report against your assailant immediately after seeking medical assistance. However much your injuries sustained are minor, possessing proof of having reported the incident to the police is essential when a court of law hears the case.

Here are some of the reasons why filing your case with the police will be a great idea:

  1. The witnesses of the assault incident will more readily cooperate with the police in giving evidence

  2. The credibility of your claims will be irrefutable

  3. Upon the defendant's conviction, the victim can use this report to ascertain legal liability in the civil lawsuit

When taking this direction, you should hire the services of an attorney who is well conversant with the state's governing laws. You will need to share your medical records and a copy of the report given to the police. From this point, the lawyer will start working on building the case.

The victim doesn't need to file the case personally when pursuing a civil lawsuit for an assault or battery. The family can also do so on their behalf under the following legal premises:

  • During the assault, they could be charged for negligent infliction of psychological trauma if they were present

  • Loss of companionship, if the incident resulted in a domestic legal partner or spouse losing moral support, companionship, or intimacy due to the assault

  • If the battery or assault led to the death, you might pursue untimely death or a survival case

Defenses in an Assault and Battery Lawsuit

A personal injury claim will fail if the individual charged with assault or abuse has a legitimate legal reason for their actions. Here are among the most common defenses to personal injury cases involving allegations of battery or assault (or both).

Consent. A defendant can claim that the victim consented to the risk of harm. This argument is most commonly used in deliberate tort cases involving paintball-style games, contact sports, and other comparable activities. Even when the contact resulted in harm, a plaintiff who pursues a claim in certain situations could have difficulty winning if they consented to particular physical contact — such as being struck in a football game — even though the contact resulted in harm.

Privilege. A law enforcement officer who exercised excessive force when arresting someone may utilize the privilege argument. If a police officer injures somebody while making an arrest, for example, a suit for assault or battery is unlikely to succeed provided the officer employed a necessary and acceptable level of physical force.

Defending oneself or defending others. A suit for assault or battery is unlikely to succeed if the defendant responded correctly to a dangerous threat. The question would be whether the defendant's reaction was reasonable in light of the circumstances. Dan can certainly seize Bill's arm and try to control him without being responsible for the intentional act of battery if Bill swings a punch at him during the attempt to strike him. On the other hand, Dan can't pull out a handgun and shoot Bill, then allege self-defense because it wouldn't be a realistic response in that context.

Other defenses could be that:

  • The plaintiff was neither threatened nor physically assaulted by the defendant

  • The plaintiff started or exacerbated the incident

  • The plaintiff was unafraid (or the incident would not scare a reasonable individual)

  • The defendant could not carry out the threat they made

Can a Victim Pursue Both Criminal and Civil Lawsuit?

In most states, battery and assault are felonies that the government can prosecute; victims are also free to pursue claims as intentional torts. The offense of battery and assault is defined differently in each state. Still, it refers to forms of physical violence made by an individual against another, and fines, incarceration, or both punish it as a criminal violation. So, single conduct (Bill hitting Dan in the forehead, for example) can result in both a criminal charge (by a local county prosecutor in the government's stead) and a personal injury suit (by Dan against Bill in a civil court).

The Statute of Limitations for Assault

Your legitimate claim will be forever barred when the statute of limitations expires before you bring a case. It is critical to get legal counsel as early as possible, even before statutory deadlines obliterate your right to compensation.

The time limit ensures that individuals do not procrastinate or take excessively long to act. It is unjust to the accused persons if they did a terrible act two decades ago only to be served with a claim for it now; they might have already paid the losses, and the proof destroyed entirely. This time restriction allows both the victim and offender to acquire adequate evidence that will not be tampered with or forgotten, as well as pay their payments and obligations on time.

The plaintiff has about two years from the time of the deliberate act to pursue a "claim for assault, battery, or harm to, or the demise of, a person because of the unlawful act or negligence of another," according to the Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1. Plaintiffs of violent crimes committed by government agencies, even police personnel, have six months to file a lawsuit against them.

California courts will overrule a statute (stop the statutory limit for some time). The following are some scenarios in which the court will allow the statutory timeframe to be tolled

  • After the injury, there was a period of mental incapacitation

  • Because the aggrieved person is a juvenile, the limitation period will be tolled until the plaintiff reaches the age of eighteen

  • After the injury, there was physical incapacitation

  • If the harm did not present itself until sometime after the abuse, assault, or battery, the limitation period would begin to run from when the injured person probably knew about the injury

  • If the defendant leaves or flees the state, the statute of limitation will be on hold until he returns

The Worth of an Assault Lawsuit

An assault or battery lawsuit's worth fluctuates. If the realities of your lawsuit prevent you from receiving specific damages, you could be eligible to obtain far more than you asked. The amount of your lawsuit will be determined by the losses and the degree of negligence involved as weighed by the insurance agent. For instance, if the damages were widespread and severe enough to keep you from work for an extended duration (or forever) and necessitated several operations and treatments, your claim could be worth a lot of money.

Minor injuries that heal fast and do not make a significant difference in lifestyle, like sprained ankles or mild cuts, might not receive significant compensation. Comparative negligence will also be taken into account by the insurance agent. The court will reduce the offer if you're also held accountable. Remember that the insurer will attempt to convince you that you were entirely to blame for the assault or that you exaggerated the severity of your injuries. Hence, you are not entitled to any compensation. These are systematic strategies, so you need to handle them.

No particular formula enables you to enter your injuries and receive a result. Furthermore, because the lawsuit likely includes a lot of negotiating, a personal injury attorney might not quote you the exact worth of your claim. You might not even receive a sum comparable to that of another case.

Compensation for Assault Lawsuit

Assault and battery victims should receive adequate remuneration for their injuries. If you could not pay off multiple obligations and expenses due to your injuries, you ought not to be forced to do so. Since they're the source of your harm, the liable individual or entities should settle your debts for you. Upon winning the lawsuit, you may be entitled to the following sorts of restitution:

Medical expenses from both the past and future, including surgery charges, hospitalization fees, pharmaceutical prices, wheelchair costs, physical therapy appointments, house and vehicle modifications to suit disability, and subsequent treatments or services if you were gravely wounded

Lost wages from your employment if you were unable to work owing to your injuries, and future earnings if you cannot come back to work until after you have fully recovered or must attend medical treatment.

Any personal belongings you possessed got lost or damaged as a result of the incident; The most typical losses include cell phones and laptops and damaged clothing. Damages for psychiatric distress, mental trauma, PTSD, terror, anxiety, and more covered by pain and suffering damages

You can file a lawsuit for loss of partnership, loss of ties, loss of anticipated savings and estate, or other damages. If a family member or loved one passes away, leaving behind burial and funeral costs, pre-death medical expenses, suffering and pain, and more, you could receive compensation for the above damages from wrongful death.

Punitive damages are other forms of financial compensation intended as a punishment to the accused and to prevent him from taking a similar cause of action in subsequent years and will only be granted in instances of extreme negligence or purpose to harm; they are given instead of incarceration in civil suits and are hard to win since jurors regard them as excessive (however, assault incorporates the purpose to harm, as such, there are higher chances in assault and battery cases than in other forms of lawsuits)

You can seek monetary compensation for your damages and other liabilities in civil lawsuits. You cannot recover such losses in a criminal case. The burden of proof in criminal proceedings is substantially higher due to the severity of the penalties, such as incarceration, fines, and community service. It would be best to show that the accused was negligent in civil trials. Remember that you don't have to pick between a civil lawsuit and a criminal charge; you can have both.

Contact a Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Near Me

If you have suffered any injuries due to an assault, you can pursue a civil lawsuit to recover the damages/losses you incurred. If your lawsuit is successful, you are likely to be on track to living a comfortable/more comfortable life as before. Since you will need to navigate different stages of filing a lawsuit correctly to have a successful case, you should seek the services of a personal injury attorney. If you are in the Los Angeles area, we invite you to contact The LA Personal Injury Law Firm at 310-935-0089 today to get started.