In many personal injury cases, the lawsuits occur over accidents such as slip and falls or motor vehicle crashes. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes a personal injury is caused by deliberate and intentional harm rather than an accident. One such instance is assault and battery. Note that while assault and battery are often grouped together, they are actually two separate intentional torts, or wrongs, that can form the basis of a lawsuit against the perpetrator in civil court.
What is Assault and Battery?
Assault and battery are intentional torts, which is a legal term for an intentional civil wrong or unjust act that leads to harm and thus opens the responsible party up to liability for damages. Intent is not necessary. If the liable party’s intentional actions caused harm, even if they didn’t mean for harm to happen, then they can be held responsible and sued for damages. So what exactly constitutes assault and what constitutes battery?
In personal injury law, assault is usually defined as any intentional act that causes a “reasonable apprehension of imminent and harmful contact.” So actual contact is not a necessary requirement of assault, as merely a reasonable threat of harmful contact is enough to be labeled assault. If contact does occur, however, that is where the battery comes into play.
Battery is defined as intentional physical contact which is offensive and/or harmful in nature. Battery does not necessitate the intent to cause harm, only the intent to cause contact. Non-consensual touching, undesirable sexual contact and other contact that is offensive to a “reasonable sense of personal dignity” is also considered battery. In the legal sense, dignity is a broad term that includes emotions such as fright, disgust, humiliation and embarrassment. Whether or not the emotions the victim felt were reasonable given the circumstances is usually a question for the judge or jury to decide.
Assault and battery do often occur together, however it is very possible for only one to occur. For example, raising your hand in a threatening manner but no strike being made would be considered assault but no charge of battery could be made. Similarly, if a strike from behind occurred that the victim did not see coming, then battery will have happened in the absence of assault. In New Jersey, cases of criminal battery are rolled into aggravated assault charges.
Damages in Personal Injury Claims of Assault and Battery
There is a wide range of injuries and harm that can result from assault and battery claims. Therefore the amount of damages recoverable in any given case can also vary widely. Monetary compensation in these cases typically comes in the form of:
- Compensatory Damages – These are monetary awards intended to compensate the victim for losses suffered as a result of their personal injury. This includes paying for medical bills, incomes loss, and the mental and physical pain and suffering of the victim.
In addition to allowing victims to file intentional tort lawsuits for assault and battery, it can also be prosecuted as a criminal offense by the government. In New Jersey, cases of battery will be charged as assault charges. This can lead to incarceration, fines or both.
Fair Compensation for Your Suffering
If you or a loved one has found themselves the victim of assault and/or battery then the Law Offices of Gold, Albanese, Barletti & Locascio, L.L.C., stand ready to assist you in receiving fair compensation for your pain and suffering. We are experts in the area of personal injury and will aggressively pursue your case to ensure you get what you deserve.