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What is Assault and Battery (Plaintiff) Law?

Definition of Assault and Battery Law

Assault and battery are two separate intentional torts that can be the subject of a personal injury lawsuit. These actions may be better known as two separate crimes that often occur together, but victims can also sue the perpetrator for civil damages. An assault is usually defined as the intentional causing of apprehension or fear of imminent harmful contact, such as someone cocking their arm back to punch a person. A battery is usually defined as any harmful or offensive contact, such as when someone actually punches the victim.

Determining the proper legal theory that will maximize damages can be difficult in a civil suit for assault and battery. Proving the amount of fear an assault caused or the severity of the damage a battery caused can be challenging in a courtroom. Attorneys with experience in assault and battery cases, however, will know how to prove the elements of an assault or battery case.

Terms to Know

  • Assault - Threatening or attempting to inflict immediate harmful or offensive physical contact or bodily harm
  • Battery - Intentionally or recklessly causing harmful or offensive physical contact or bodily harm
  • Intentional Tort - A civil wrong inflicted intentionally that can form the basis of a personal injury lawsuit
  • Intent - A mental state required to prove both assault and battery - typically, the perpetrator must intend to cause fear or touch the victim
  • Damages - Money awarded to the victims to compensate them for the harm they have suffered or to punish the perpetrator

For more legal definitions, visit the FindLaw Legal Dictionary.

Other Considerations When Hiring an Assault and Battery Lawyer

Many victims of battery do not realize that they can sue for damages even when they are physically harmed by the perpetrator's touching. Battery only requires that the touching be nonconsensual, so even people who are not bruised or cut may still have a case. That said, many people who technically have the right to sue for battery likely will not receive much money.

When the touching causes little or no lasting harm, courts often only award nominal damages, which may be as little as $1 and awarded only to demonstrate that a wrong occurred. Victims, therefore, should consult an attorney immediately after an assault or battery to determine whether they have a valid lawsuit.

If you have been the victim of an assault or battery, contact an assault and battery lawyer immediately to preserve your rights and explore your legal options.

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