Assault and battery are both criminal offenses, but there is a key difference between the two. Assault refers to the act of making someone reasonably afraid of "imminent" offensive contact or harm, while battery is the act of making offensive contact with or inflicting harm on another person. What distinguishes the two is that someone can be charged with assault simply for making a threat that causes another person to be reasonably afraid of imminent harm. No physical contact is required to support an assault charge. Although these acts are often prosecuted as criminal offenses, it is also possible to file a civil lawsuit against someone who has committed assault or battery against you. Here is what you need to know about this type of personal injury case.
Torts are acts committed by one party that result in harm to another party. Many civil cases involve some type of tort. For example, if someone causes a car accident by running a red light, he has committed a tort against the occupants of the other vehicle. Manufacturers can also commit torts by manufacturing and selling defective products that cause harm to users. In civil court, assault and battery are also considered torts, but they are called intentional torts. Unlike other torts, assault and battery are torts that are committed on purpose. When someone commits battery, he or she intends to hurt another person; in other words, the tort is committed intentionally. In contrast, someone who runs a red light and causes an accident does not commit the tort on purpose; thus, it is not intentional.
Assault as an Intentional Tort
Several actions qualify as assault for the purposes of filing a civil lawsuit. Remember, no physical contact is necessary for assault to occur. If you are involved in an argument, you may be able to file a civil suit against the other person if he or she threatens to "clean your clock" or "knock out your teeth." Another example of assault as an intentional tort is when someone is driving past you and suddenly accelerates or takes another action that makes you reasonably believe the person intends to run you over with the vehicle. If something like this happened to you, contact one of the personal injury attorney services in your area to find out if it is possible to file a civil lawsuit against the person who committed the intentional tort.
Battery as an Intentional Tort
Again, some type of physical contact or harm is necessary to support a lawsuit for battery. To sue another person for battery, the other person must make offensive contact with you or perform some type of intentional action that results in direct harm. If you are involved in an argument, the other person may commit battery by pushing you into traffic or punching you hard enough to cause you to fall and hit your head. Indirect contact can also be a form of battery. For example, if someone purposely throws a wrench at you, this is battery even though the other person's body did not come into direct contact with your body. Although many examples of battery cause immediate harm, others do not. For example, if someone sets a booby trap at your house and you are injured when it goes off three days later, you may still be able to sue for battery even though there was a delay between when the person set the trap and when you were injured.
If someone committed assault or battery against you, schedule a consultation with a personal injury attorney to determine if it is worth it to file a lawsuit. The laws vary by state, so your attorney can advise you as to whether it is worth your while to pursue this type of case in civil court. If you decide to file, your attorney will prepare you for court and walk you through the process of seeing the case through to its conclusion.