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Do I Have An Assault Case?


At face value, “assault” is a criminal offense. But the act of assault can also form the foundation of a personal injury lawsuit. An assault is an “intentional tort” in the eyes of the law. This means it is an offense that can lead to a civil lawsuit for damages.

What is assault?

Under tort law, assault is an intentional act causing fear of imminent harmful or offensive contact. This fear is inflicted from one person to another. But assault does not always include physical contact. When it comes to tort law, the simple fear of an offensive act or a harmful one is an assault. This assault becomes battery when actual touching takes place. Assault and battery are usually claimed together, when physical contact occurs.

Elements of Assault

When filing an assault lawsuit, it is very important that you know the elements of assault. These elements include two main points you must be able to prove, in order to recover the damages you are owed. The two elements of assault include:

  • An intentional action on the defendant’s part, meant to cause fear of harm
  • Intentional action by the defendant actually causing reasonable fear of immediate harm on the plaintiff’s part

Injuries and Damages for Assault

Any type of tort, whether intentional or not, involves damages. Assault cases are no different than other types of tort cases, in that these matters involve damages, too. Assault damages include physical injuries, psychological damages or both types of damages. Some assaults even result in property damages. If your assault results in sustained personal injury, you may be able to recover economic and non-economic damages. Some jurisdictions even permit assault victims to receive punitive damages, depending on the circumstances of your assault case.

When you suffer costs and expenses associated with your assault, economic damages make up for these expenses. Common damages in this category of economic costs include medical bills, continuing care costs and property repair or replacement.

Non-economic damages are those awarded or provided through settlement for pain and suffering. These types of damages are harder to quantify and require the skill of an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Punitive damages are designed to punish your assailant. These assault damages are only available in certain jurisdictions and for certain circumstances. To gain punitive damages, your assault must be particularly egregious or outrageous. Good examples of assaults carrying punitive damages are sexual assault or sexual abuse of a child.

Should you sue?

Even when you have a well-formed case, you need to consider the financial costs of filing your lawsuit. This is true even when your assault case includes witnesses ready to testify to the assault and related criminal convictions. Civil lawsuits seek to compensate victims from the perpetrator for the harm the victim suffered. If the person who offended you through assault has no real assets or wealth, there is nothing to win in the matter. The individual may have a liability insurance policy, but intentional acts are almost always excluded from these types of policies. This means you may not be able to file an intentional tort case.

There may be other parties responsible or negligent in your assault case, beyond the person assaulting you. These parties may have better means for you to sue them. A good example is when you are assaulted in a dimly lit parking lot. The parking lot owner may be liable for negligence in your assault case, since they failed to provide adequate security and lighting for safety. A personal injury attorney must investigate these matters as they pertain to your individual case, for a sound decision to be made about viability.

In Arizona, the experienced personal injury lawyers of Cantor Crane provide skilled representation of assault victims. If you have been assaulted in Arizona, call Cantor Crane now at 602.254.2701 for a free, no-obligation case consultation.

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About the Author

Attorney Barry Boches provides personalized legal representation for criminal defense, personal injury, DWI and traffic violation cases in Illinois.