Criminal charges will not be the only penalties that you will have to face when you commit assault or battery. Aside from any criminal prosecution, the victim of assault or battery can file a civil lawsuit against his/her assailant. Criminal prosecution is intended for penalizing the defendants for unlawful acts, civil cases are made to make the victims whole through compensation for the injuries they sustained.
You will find below basic and useful information about civil assault and battery and the kinds of damages that can be given to the victims.
The Elements of Civil Battery
The elements to prove civil battery are basically similar to criminal battery. A successful civil lawsuit for battery will compel the plaintiff to show that these elements were present:
- There is an intentional touching of, or use of force, to the body of the other person
- In an offensive and harmful way, and
- Without the permission of the victim
Restatement (Second) of Torts stipulates that the assailant does not have to have an intention to have physical contact or touch with the victim for the civil battery to happen. He just have to purposely cause the imminent apprehension, or fear, of physical harm or injury in his victim. For instance, if the defendant has just intended to frighten the plaintiff by swinging a baseball bat near him, however, the plaintiff was hit accidentally by the bat, the plaintiff has a case for civil battery.
The Elements of Civil Assault
Different from battery, civil assault does not need for the defendant to have any physical contact with his/her victim. During a civil lawsuit for assault, the plaintiff needs to prove that these elements were present:
- There is an intentional attempt or threat to inflict harm or injury on the other person,
- With an obvious ability to cause the harm or injury, and
- Make a reasonable apprehension of offensive contact or bodily harm in the victim.
When the victim is placed in fear of imminent contact, there is no actual injury or physical contact to happen. For instance, if the defendant aims at scaring the plaintiff by swinging a baseball bat near him, and the plaintiff was placed in fear of physical harm or injury, then the plaintiff has a case for civil assault.
Damages in Civil Assault and Battery Cases
During a successful assault or battery lawsuit, the plaintiff will be awarded damages to compensate for the injuries and expenses that resulted from the tort. It generally includes any medical expenses, lost wages, or the pain and suffering that the victim suffered. When the assault or battery is traumatic, the plaintiff may be awarded with damages to cover the cost of therapy also.
Civil assault and civil battery are an intentional tort which means that they come from intentional acts instead of negligence on the part of the defendant. The victims of intentional torts will receive special kind of damages called punitive damages. These punitive damages are intended to penalize the defendant for especially dreadful behavior and discourage others from doing in similar conduct. There are many cases when punitive damages can be for about three-times the amount given for regular damages.