Assault and Battery Tort Cases
When an assault and battery occurs, the aftermath can be devastating for victims in more ways than one. Although the offender may face criminal charges, that’s only part of the story. It may not be enough to give victims the justice and compensation they deserve. The victim also has the right to bring an assault and battery tort claim.
Regardless of whether the state files criminal charges, the victim may pursue a civil lawsuit for assault and battery. Our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys are ready to help assault and battery victims get the financial relief they need now and hold the responsible party accountable for their actions.
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What is an assault and battery civil case?
An assault and battery civil case is a tort claim for financial compensation. It is a finding of legal fault. It typically accompanies a requirement that the offender pay damages to the victim. The victim brings an assault and battery civil case for financial compensation and a finding of legal responsibility.
The purpose of the case is to find the offender legally responsible for the offense of assault and battery. Unlike a criminal case, an assault and battery civil case doesn’t result in a criminal record or jail time.
Proving Your Civil Assault Case
An assault and battery tort civil case differs from a criminal case regarding what the victim must prove to win. What must be established in a civil assault case is:
- The defendant took intentional actions.
- When the defendant took action, they intended for harm to occur, or they knew that it was likely to be the result based on their actions.
- The action resulted in an offensive touching or the reasonable belief that a harmful or offensive touching was about to occur.
- A victim suffered injuries and damages.
- The injuries and damages are the results of the assault
In a civil assault case, the victim must prove what their damages are. Damages may include economic losses like medical bills, lost income from the inability to work, and non-economic losses like pain and suffering.
What is offensive touching?
Offensive touching is also called unwanted touching. For example, the defendant grabs you in your private areas intentionally. It could also involve them making gestures while using an object to touch you offensively. For instance, they make a slashing gesture across their neck while pressing a knife against your neck.
How is a criminal case different from a civil case?
With a criminal complaint, the police will investigate your claim that assault or battery occurred. If they establish there is sufficient evidence to pursue a criminal case, they will charge the person with the crime.
At that point, the prosecution takes over the case. You cannot withdraw your complaint or halt the proceedings. Instead, it is up to the prosecutor to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to take the case to court.
During the court proceeding, you may be called upon to be a witness for the prosecution. They can subpoena you if you are unwilling to appear. A subpoena is a legal document that requires you to appear in court, or else you could face criminal charges yourself.
The burden of proof falls on the prosecution to convince a jury that that assault or battery occurred beyond a responsible doubt. The defendant is considered innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, their only goal is to create sufficient reasonable doubt so a jury does not find them guilty.
Can you sue for assault and battery in civil court if the defendant was found not guilty in a criminal case?
In some cases, the jury could decide the defendant is not guilty. However, you can still sue them in civil court and seek monetary damages.
One of the best examples in recent times was the O.J. Simpson case. The former NFL star was charged in the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman in criminal court. However, in that case, the jury found him not guilty, and he was acquitted of all charges.
The surviving family members filed a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court against Mr. Simpson. The civil jury found Mr. Simpson guilty. He was ordered to pay damages in the sum of $33.5 million.
Many people at that time and even to this day have wondered how this was possible. How could he be found not guilty in criminal court, yet guilty in civil court? The reason has to do with the burden of proof.
In criminal cases, the prosecution must establish the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The jury had reasonable doubt in the Simpson criminal case, so they acquitted Mr. Simpson.
In civil injury and wrongful death lawsuits, the plaintiff’s attorney must convince a jury through a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant’s actions resulted in the injuries or death. In the Simpson civil case, the defense attorneys provided the jury with a sufficient preponderance of the evidence.
They concluded that Mr. Simpson’s actions resulted in the death of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. As such, even if a defendant is found not guilty in criminal court, it does not mean they cannot be found guilty in civil court.
What is the reasonable person standard in negligence lawsuits?
The reasonable person standard in negligence lawsuits is a test that compares what an average person would have done or not done in the same situation. It examines the duty of care a person would reasonably use to help prevent the plaintiff’s injuries.
For example, in assault and battery cases in civil court, the jury will compare the actions of a reasonable person and whether the injuries the defendant caused would have still occurred. As you can imagine, the reasonable person standard could find that the defendant did not provide a duty of care and, therefore, fails this test.
Compensation for Assault and Battery Civil Claims
The amount of compensation that you get for an assault and battery civil lawsuit depends on the losses that you incur. In general, you can claim your economic and non-economic damages, including:
- Cost of medical care
- Lost income
- Loss of future wages
- Property damage
- Treatment for PTSD and anxiety
- Pain and suffering
You may claim pain and suffering compensation that is relative to the severity of your injuries. Also, punitive damages may be available in your assault and battery case. If it is found that the defendant intentionally and maliciously caused harm to the victim, punitive damages could be a substantial part of the damages collected.
Nevada Assault and Battery Laws
Nevada Assault Law – NRS 200.471
Nevada’s criminal assault law is NRS 200.471. The law defines assault as attempting to use force or placing a person in imminent fear of bodily harm. Criminal assault is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Civil law for assault is similar, but with a few minor differences. The tort of assault is intending to use force or putting a person in fear of imminent harm. The difference is that the victim needs to prove a civil tort case by a preponderance of the evidence rather than beyond a reasonable doubt.
In addition, in a civil tort assault case, the victim may claim compensation for pain and suffering and other damages that may not be available as restitution in the criminal system.
Nevada Battery Law – NRS 200.481
Nevada battery law NRS 200.481 defines battery as an unlawful, intentional touching of another person. Under Nevada’s criminal law, battery is a misdemeanor with a possible six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. There are reasons that the charges may be a felony, including if the case involves strangulation or substantial bodily harm.
To constitute a civil battery, there must be substantial certainty that the offender’s action will result in harm. However, the absence of specific intent to harm is not a defense. In addition, a victim can be struck with an object like a car or weapon.
Civil battery is an offensive touching, like a criminal battery. However, civil battery has a lower burden of proof and expanded damages as compared to criminal charges.
Assault and Battery Civil Cases – FAQs
Can you sue after a criminal case?
Yes, you can sue after a criminal case. Regardless of whether the defendant is found guilty or acquitted, it is possible to bring a civil lawsuit. No rule states that you must wait until the criminal case is over. However, it’s crucial to strategize and consider various factors when determining how to pursue the case.
Our experienced personal injury lawyers have the skills to create a comprehensive legal strategy and aggressively pursue your case to maximize compensation for your injuries and suffering.
Can you sue someone for physical abuse?
Yes, you can sue someone for physical abuse. A lawsuit for physical abuse falls under the civil tort of assault and battery. Physical abuse may occur on one occasion or be a pattern of repeated behavior.
The amount that the victim can claim in financial compensation depends on the trauma that the victim suffers and the victim’s ability to collect from the defendant for the claim. In general, you can sue someone for physical abuse by bringing a civil claim for damages.
Is punching someone a civil or criminal case?
Punching someone can be both a civil case and a criminal case. It is a crime because it is against the law to commit an assault or battery. However, it is also a civil tort. A person who punches someone else may face both a civil case and a criminal case.
Even if there is no criminal case, there can still be a civil case. Similarly, the prosecutor can bring criminal charges whether or not the victim files a civil claim.
Can emotional distress be included in assault and battery civil lawsuits?
Yes, you can include emotional distress as part of your injuries in an assault and battery civil lawsuit. However, you must have sustained some form of actual harm or physical injury to seek damages in your lawsuit.
Emotional distress cases are won by demonstrating to a jury that you are experiencing some form of emotional damage, such as PTSD, fear, anxiety, depression, etc. Your personal injury attorney will often recommend seeing a professional and obtaining an official diagnosis for your emotional distress.
They may also call up expert witnesses, friends, and family members to further support your emotional distress claim.
Las Vegas Attorneys for Assault and Battery Lawsuit Settlements
Assault and battery lawsuit settlements compensate a victim for the damages that they suffer. Whether you accept a settlement or take your case to trial, our team at Adam S. Kutner, Injury Attorneys, has the training and determination to help you get results.
We’re here to help you fight for justice. Let us explore your case and determine the best course of action to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact our team of friendly attorneys today for your free and confidential consultation.
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Shapiro, E. (2021). 26 Years Ago, O.J. Simpson Was Acquitted: Timeline of His LIfe and the Sensational Trial.
NRS 200.471. (2021).
NRS 200.481. (2021).
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