The vast majority of personal injury cases deal with ways in which some responsible party failed to act in the correct way, therefore leading to or causing an injury to someone else.
The law refers to this general class of tort law as cases involving some form of negligence.
If it is a very egregious form of negligence, the courts may refer to the offending behavior as being reckless or something similar.
However, in a case involving assault and/or battery, the conduct in question is intentional.
Georgia tort law recognizes that civil damages are appropriate when someone is a victim of another’s assault and/or battery.
While common speech and popular culture typically pair “assault” and “battery” together when talking about a physical attack upon the person of another, these two phrases actually signify two distinct wrongs and it is quite possible to have one without the other.
What is an Assault?
An assault occurs when one person (for illustration, let’s call him Dave) intentionally acts in a way that is meant to cause a reasonable apprehension of imminent and harmful contact in another person (let’s call him Paul).
If Dave’s intentional conduct (bodily actions and words) is designed to cause fear in Peter that Dave might hurt Peter and this fear is reasonable, then Peter may be able to sue Dave for the tort of Assault.
Here are some examples to further illustrate the tort of Assault:
- Dave sees Paul crossing the street and Dave speeds up his car directly towards Paul, acting as though Dave was going to hit Paul with the car, and then steers clear at the last second
- Dave gets into a verbal argument with Paul, face-to-face, and Dave swings his fist towards Paul’s face but misses on purpose
An assault does not require that the assailant actually touch the victim, only that the victim be reasonably in fear of imminent and harmful contact.
This tort is far more about the threat of harmful contact than the contact itself.
Given that the primary way Georgia courts use to determine whether an assault has taken place is asking whether it was reasonable for Paul to fear Dan’s conduct, you should contact your experienced personal injury attorney to discuss the specifics of your case.
What is a Battery?
Similar to the tort of assault, battery requires an intentional act.
In the case of battery, however, the wrong occurs because of the contact.
Dan commits a battery when he intentionally causes harmful or offensive contact on Paul.
A battery can be direct and immediate (e.g., Dan pushes Paul), indirect and immediate (e.g., Dan throws a rock that hits Paul), or indirect and remote (e.g., Dan sets a trap that Paul falls into days later).
While most of the time a battery occurs along with an assault, it is quite possible for a battery to occur when there is no assault.
For example, there is a battery but no assault when Dan pushes Paul from behind.
This is because Paul was the victim of a harmful or offensive contact, but Paul did not fear the contact because he wasn’t looking at Dan when Dan pushed him.
Damages in Assault and Battery Injury Cases
Filing a lawsuit requires a certain amount of cost and resources, therefore a personal injury lawyer will likely only want to pursue a case if there are enough damages to recover for the alleged harm.
In many cases, an assault or battery may have technically taken place, but not enough harm may have occurred to warrant filing a civil lawsuit.
However, if the defendant hurts the plaintiff so much that there are sizable medical expenses, initiating a lawsuit may be the best way to recover financially and get reimbursement for those bills in addition to compensation for pain and suffering.
If you or someone you love has been a victim of an assault or battery, please contact The Angell Law Firm so we can help you assess the value of your case and ensure that all proper steps are taken to preserve evidence to maximize the value of your recovery.