Assault and battery are intentional torts which can serve as grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. Often, personal injury lawsuits are filed over accidents which cause injury, but in cases of assault and battery, the injury was caused intentionally. The victim of assault and battery can file a personal injury claim and seek damages for the incident.
Assault is most often defined as an intentional act which is meant to cause a “reasonable apprehension of imminent and harmful contact,” which refers to an act which gave reason for the victim to believe they were about to be harmed by the offender. For an act to qualify as an assault, there does not have to be physical harm, The threat of imminent harm is enough to qualify an act as an assault. It can also be described as an attempt at battery. Examples of assault might be:
- Verbally threatening someone with violence
- Pointing a gun at someone
- Trying to hit someone with a car
If any of the above situations result in physical harmful contact, then it would be considered battery. Battery is a tort where the offender makes intentional harmful or offensive contact with the victim. The harmful act can be:
- direct and immediate, such as shoving or pushing
- indirect and immediate, such as throwing an object at a person
- indirect and remote, such as setting a trap which causes harm at a later time.
The victim does not have to be physically harmed for the act to be considered battery. It only needs to be shown that the offender made willful contact with the victim, and that the contact would be considered offensive or innapropriate to a reasonable person. It is common for assault and battery to occur in the same event, though that is not always the case. A victim can be threatened without receiving offensive contact, and an offender can make offensive contact without creating previous threat.
In an assault and battery civil case, the damages available vary depending on the situation and type of tort. In a case where no physical harm was done, a lawsuit may not be as worth it in the long run. However, in an assault and battery case where the victim was hospitalized and received medical attention, a personal injury lawsuit might be the best way to get compensation for medical bills and for other matters such as pain and suffering.
In a personal injury lawsuit, the defendant may have valid legal excuses for their behavior. For instance, one common defense for an assault or battery tort is to claim consent. A defendant might claim the plaintiff consented to the idea of being harmed, which is a common defense in cases involving contact sports or other such activities.
If the defendant is a police officer, they might use privilege as their defense. If the plaintiff was injured while the police officer was arresting them, the officer might claim they were using appropriate and reasonable force to make the arrest.
Lastly, the defendant could claim self-defense or defense of others. If the defendant was responding appropriately to threat of harm, the lawsuit may not be as successful.