Not every injury is an accident. While the idea of a personal injury lawsuit usually brings to mind things like car crashes or falls on a slippery floor, sometimes people intentionally hurt others and are just as responsible for the damages and medical bills as anyone else who caused an injury.
When a person intentionally causes an injury, they can be liable both in criminal court and in civil court for what is known as an “intentional tort.” In general, intentional torts are causes of action like assault, battery, or wrongful death. While these types of claims often result in an arrest and criminal action, they can also be the basis for a lawsuit.
In an intentional tort case, the injured person must prove that the defendant purposefully and knowingly caused an injury. “Purposefully” does not mean that the person meant to cause an injury—simply meaning to take an action which resulted in harm can be the basis for an assault or battery claim even if there was no ill intent.
Usually, intentional tort cases consist of claims for wrongful death which result from car accidents. However, claims for assault and battery are also common, and can consist of anything from a bar fight to a shooting.
Legally, there is a difference between assault and battery, though the two terms are often used interchangeably. Battery is what people commonly think of when they hear the term assault. Actually, a battery is any unwanted touching or physical injury. In contrast, an assault occurs when a person puts their victim in fear of an imminent battery, but doesn’t actually hurt them.
For example, if Anne fires a gun at Bob and hits him, Anne has committed a battery. If Anne holds Bob at gunpoint, fires at him and misses, Anne has still committed an assault. Bob could file a claim both assault and battery if he was struck by the bullet, or just assault if he was not. The fear of being harmed by Anne is in itself the basis for an intentional tort lawsuit.
Compensation In Intentional Tort Cases
In an intentional tort case, the damages or compensation a victim will receive depends on the type of case and the financial status of the defendant. Since intentional tort cases can consist of anything from an inconsequential struggle to murder, the degree of injury that the victim suffered will largely determine the amount of compensation they will receive.
The injured victim in an intentional tort case has the right to seek both punitive and compensatory damages. This means that they can receive compensation for their actual medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other expenses, as well as additional punitive damages meant to punish the defendant for his or her wrongdoing. Punitive damages are often significantly more valuable than compensatory damages.
Whether or not a person should file a civil lawsuit over an assault or battery largely depends on the financial state of the victim. If the defendant does not have insurance or does not have thousands of dollars in the bank to compensate the victim, a victory in civil court would be largely symbolic. However, many intentional tort cases result in injured victims and their families receiving a victory in civil court that would not have been possible in criminal court. Famously, the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman won a civil wrongful death case against O.J. Simpson, who was ordered to pay them millions.
If you or a loved one was injured as a result of an assault and/or battery, it is imperative that you speak with a personal injury attorney and make sure that your legal rights are protected. At the Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq., our team of dedicated legal and medical professionals use their expertise to help you get justice after an injury or death caused by someone else’s actions. For a free consultation, call us today at (310) 289-2600 or use our online contact form to have your case reviewed for free.