Written by Aaron R. Winston
Last Updated: January 18, 2024 2:20pm CST
Assault is one of the most severe crimes out there. When one person brings physical harm upon someone else, it is a despicable act.
However, even if you have been wrongly assaulted, there are limits to the kinds of legal actions you can take against your assailant.
For the most part, you should find it reasonably simple to sue for assault charges, but there will always be outliers where it is not an option.
Therefore, knowing the details of how and when you can seek legal action against your assaulter is crucial to your success.
The legal world is rife with details and clauses that can be difficult for non-professionals to navigate. We hope to provide you with the details you need to know about when you can and cannot sue for assault(assault and battery) with the help of this article.
With that said, let’s begin.
Can You Sue Someone For Assault?
Yes, you can sue someone for assault with the intent to win financial damages in court because the act of assault can be both a crime and a civil tort. When someone commits a civil tort such as assault, they do civil wrongdoing, which is not the same as a criminal wrong.
For example, suppose someone physically assaults you, and you suffer physical or emotional injuries. In that case, the perpetrator who did the assault can be arrested and face criminal charges such as assault and battery.
Even if they are found not guilty of a crime, the you can still sue them for assault in a civil lawsuit for the financial damages you sustained.
That can include obtaining money for both economic and non-economic damages, such as lost wages and pain or suffering.
What Is Civil Assault?
The first distinction you should make is breaking down assault cases into two different categories. To start, we will discuss civil assaults.
Civil assaults are classified as intentional torts in the letter of the law.
While most torts are born of negligence and do not take the tortfeasor’s intent into account, a deliberate tort involves the tortfeasor actively attempting to bring harm to their victim.
Essentially, what distinguishes a civil assault claim from a personal injury claim is that the aggressor was actively trying to harm or intimidate you rather than doing so purely out of ignorance or inattention.
For example, imagine you at your local market doing some grocery shopping before dinner. You are perusing the shelves for a favorite item, and another shopper is coming down the aisle towards you.
Let us also assume that you are just slightly in their way, just enough to prevent them from carrying on through the aisle without you moving.
If, instead of drawing your attention to the issue, they proceed to strike you with their cart intentionally, they have committed civil assault. This example is the start of what permits you to sue for assault or not.
If the person who struck you did so intentionally, it could be pursued as an assault case, especially if you suffered a severe enough injury.
For example, say the blow caused you to strike your head against something and caused a head wound. The intent is what allows you to consider it an assault claim.
Essentially, a civil assault consists of any intentional, violent action that causes you to feel apprehension and physical harm.
You do not even need to be fully struck for it to be considered a civil assault.
However, things are very different if the blow was accidental or negligent.
Let us transition from our grocery store metaphor to one involving motor vehicles. Let us start by assuming that you took a parking spot that another driver had hoped to claim for themselves.
They intentionally attempt to strike you with their vehicle in response to losing the parking area.
This type of car accident could easily be constituted as assault, and you would be permitted to pursue a legal assault claim against the driver who performed this intimidation attempt for punitive damages.
However, suppose the other driver did this without seeing you were there and struck you with intent. In that case, it becomes a much different story that turns it from an assault claim to a personal injury claim for your medical bills, injuries, and even emotional distress.
The difference between an intentional act and an accidental injury means that you obviously cannot pursue an assault claim in a court of law against this person.
If you’ve suffered from physical injuries and were the victim of an assault, we recommend speaking with a personal injury attorney for an attorney-client relationship and individualized legal advice.
We have only discussed civil assaults; another form of assault can yield more severe consequences.
What Is Criminal Assault?
While being a victim of civil assault is an awful experience, criminal assaults take it further. Criminal assault involves everything detailed in a civil assault, except there is almost always physical contact and the assaulter violated the law in doing so.
Now, the fact is that most assaults can be qualified as criminal assaults since most states have laws against such things.
Specifically, any state with an existing law prohibiting anyone from striking another citizen in a specific way or with a particular item would turn it into a criminal assault.
Criminal assault can apply even when you don’t sustain a severe injury from the person who attacked you.
While criminal assault is more severe than civil assault, it also brings more severe qualifiers.
Because criminal assault brings harsh punishments for the aggressor if they are found guilty, there is a more significant burden of proof to get a successful criminal claim filed.
Additionally, there needs to be proof connecting the assault to the violation of a criminal statute that prohibits the specific actions taken to render harm unto someone.
Evidence of criminal assault could include photos, videos, witnesses, and a police report.
In criminal assault cases and battery cases, you can not file the charges yourself, as it would be the filing by a prosecuting attorney alleging a crime was committed.
However, you might be able to file a criminal complaint against the person who assaulted you. It acts as a petition to the district attorney asking them to bring charges against your attacker.
If you are ever being accused of assault or have charges brought against you, you should speak to a criminal law attorney and law firm who can help you understand any criminal charges and decide how to best protect yourself in a potential assault lawsuit.
Double Jeopardy Is Inapplicable To Civil Assault
For those of you who might not be aware, there is a term in the legal world known as “double jeopardy.” While the name of this law was inspired by the television program Jeopardy, it is nowhere near as pleasant.
Double jeopardy laws typically prohibit anyone from being tried twice for the same crime if they are acquitted the first time around. However, there are some special allowances for filing an assault claim.
Civil and criminal assault charges can be brought up as different measures against the aggressor. The former is to seek out remuneration for the damages caused by the assault, while the latter results in possible jail time and other consequences.
However, one does not prevent the other from being filed.
The same exemption from double jeopardy is fully applicable to the assault you have suffered. A highly famous example of double jeopardy involved Pro Football Hall of Fame player O.J. Simpson and his controversial acquittal for the murders of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman.
While O.J. Simpson was acquitted of the crimes charged against him in the criminal case, the civil lawsuit for the wrongful deaths still proceeded and was won without issue.
The jury awarded the victim’s families $33.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
The Goldmans reported that Simpson has only paid them 1% of the civil lawsuit award they are owed. O.J. Simpson filed for bankruptcy and moved to Florida, which kept his NFL pension safe from the civil lawsuits seizure.
Now, suppose, like O.J., the aggressor who struck you is not successfully convicted of criminal assault. In that case, you are entirely able to seek out a civil or personal injury case against them with a personal injury lawyer.
This action serves as an excellent example of a time you could sue for assault regardless of other legal proceedings the aggressor is enduring.
Once again, let us return to the road rage example we previously provided. After the driver strikes you with their vehicle, you file a civil claim for damages and pain and suffering.
However, since the law actively prohibits striking other citizens with motor vehicles, they can also be taken to court for criminal assault charges.
Therefore, you can pursue both cases to the fullest extent since you have damages, and the aggressor committed a crime by violating a statute of the law.
Can Self-Defense Affect Assault Claims?
Yes, one significant distinction that needs to be made is between self-defense and assault.
Assault involves an unsolicited or unjustified form of physical aggression from another person or persons. When assaulted, you have every right to seek justice against the person responsible for your injuries and trauma.
However, those rights can go right out the window depending on circumstances of the incident.
Just as everyone has a right to sue for assault, everyone has the right to defend themselves against an aggressor.
As the name implies, self-defense is taking physical action against an aggressor to minimize the harm that comes to you and repel the attacker entirely.
Unfortunately, sometimes self-defense action leaves the aggressor in a worse condition than they might have even left you in after the attack is over.
That can put you on the civil law defense, making it harder for you to recover money from a lawsuit against the perpetrator of the assault.
While self-defense is a reasonable action to take when someone engages in violent physical activity against you, there is a rule of reasonable force.
This loops back to the civil and criminal case distinction as well.
While you can defend yourself against an aggressor, you might wind up being sued yourself if you take it further than a reasonable person would.
Let us say that the person attempting to strike you with their vehicle is still coming toward you when your fight or flight instincts kick in. In response, you draw a concealed firearm and shoot them through the windshield to stop its progression.
Not only have you employed deadly force, but you have also done so publicly and made use of imperfect self-defense. Imperfect self-defense involves using lethal force against an aggressor who might not have used enough force to justify it.
For example, suppose that it was found that the driver lost consciousness due to a medical condition and veered towards the sidewalk.
In that case, you may not have enough evidence that you were justified in using a firearm for self-defense or that you were faced with immediate harm.
Also, if you provoked the aggressor into using force in the first place, imperfect self-defense and self-defense, in general, might not be applicable since you escalated the incident.
As our auto accident example illustrates, self-defense claims can greatly complicate these cases. It depends on the circumstances surrounding the accident, the extent of the bodily harm, witness testimonies, and the evidence at hand.
How To Win a Civil Assault Case?
Lawsuits filed for assault charges require a great deal of supporting evidence to ensure that you can prove the aggressor harmed you. When filing a civil claim, this is important to make sure you are appropriately compensated for the damages incurred by the incident.
However, to successfully file and win your assault claim, you need to consider what resources you must draw on to adequately prove your aggressor’s fault.
Witnesses are among the chief resources you need for the claim since people who observed the incident can corroborate the events before a jury.
You can also collect evidence and record the conflict before violence breaks out. Look on the internet, and you will see countless YouTube videos or Facebook streams of people filming a confrontation as it becomes more heated until the person being recorded finally comes to blows.
We know this will not always be an option depending on how quickly things escalate, but recording conflicts can remove any doubt about how the assault occurred.
Another way to secure a victory for a civil claim is for the criminal case to convict your assailant successfully. Once the criminal side is secured in the court record, it becomes much simpler for a lawsuit to play out in your favor in civil court.
However, there is one other consideration that needs to be made.
While a personal injury lawsuit will help you recover economic and non-economic damages from the assault, like mental damages, you need to consider the financial burden and the time it takes for cases to run their course.
The costs not related to those of your legal representation and filing a claim are not negligible and can be prohibitive for those with financial issues.
Still, the unfortunate reality is that you can win a civil suit, and not there not be any trial award monies to collect.
So, you need to keep this in mind when you are dealing with personal injury law and the absence of an insurance company to accept liability.
During free consultations and case evaluations, personal injury attorneys discuss this concept with clients, which is another reason why you should seek legal help from an attorney when you are on either side of an assault case.
Civil Damages: Assault Lawsuit Settlements
Assault is a serious occurrence that is worthy of legal consideration. For the most part, you will find that you have every right to sue someone for assault, with only a select few exceptions.
However, regardless of where the assault took place, the statute of limitations is always a factor to keep in mind and discuss with an attorney. That can be the difference between reaching a favorable and just settlement for your assault case and getting $0.00 in financial compensation.
What Are Punitive Damages in Civil Assault Cases?
“Punitive damages” is a legal term describing the monetary award a jury can reward someone in order to punish the defendant for intentionally and maliciously causing loss or injury to the plaintiff suing them.
Punitive damages are not a form of financial compensation for the harm caused but a way for the court to punish people for heinous and harmful acts like sexual assault. The concept is the potential of punitive damages will deter people from doing the intentional tort in the first place, making it safer for everyone.
Types of Damages for Assault Cases:
- Psychological counseling
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earnings
- Emotional distress or trauma
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Medical or hospital bills
- Future medical expenses
- Scarring on body
- Damage to clothes
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
When seeking compensation for the injuries and damages you sustained, it becomes little more than a matter of proving that the aggressor attacked you unprovoked and caused your injuries.
One of the most interesting components is that criminal assault cases do not impede your efforts to seek restitution since civil law is a separate matter.
As discussed, you can sue someone for assault if they made harmful or offensive contact against you meant to cause you harm, which can bring images of punching and kicking to mind.
What Are Examples of Assault?
There are countless examples of assault you can sue someone in a civil case for money, including:
Examples of Assault
- Spitting in someone’s face
- Domestic violence
- Throwing water in someone’s face
- Throwing a drink at someone
- Throwing an object at another person
- Hitting someone with a weapon
These are just a few examples of assault and battery that people have filed lawsuits or pressed criminal charges for and won.
When You Are Suing for Assault and Battery
We know that filing a civil assault claim against a company or person is an arduous endeavor that can leave you struggling. This process can be even more complicated when compounded with the daily costs of living and coping with any medical care you have been forced to seek out.
With all of these expenses piling on top of each other, we understand how you can feel like you are drowning in a sea of costs. Fortunately, there might be a solution to your financial worries so you can focus on healing and your assault legal case.
We at Express Legal Funding have experience in providing our pre-settlement funding service to plaintiffs involved in assault and battery cases so they could use it to pay for essentials like rent, power, and unexpected medical costs.
The cash advance on your assault claim is in exchange for the small portion of your settlement or case award when the civil lawsuit wraps up.
So the best part is that you are only obligated to ensure repayment if you settle or win your claim. If you go to court and lose, you get to keep the funds advanced to you on your civil lawsuit—risk-free funding.
Call us today to apply for free anytime, 24/7, and learn how pre-settlement funding can be the best choice for you. We answer when you call and are here to help injured claimants when they need it the most financially.
About the Author
Aaron Winston is the Strategy Director of Express Legal Funding. As "The Legal Funding Expert," Aaron has more than ten years of experience in the consumer finance industry. Most of which was as a consultant to a top financial advisory firm, managing 400+ million USD in client wealth. He is recognized as an expert author and researcher across multiple SEO industries.
Aaron Winston earned his title "The Legal Funding Expert" through authoritative articles and blog posts about legal funding. He specializes in expert content writing for pre-settlement funding and law firm blogs.
Each month, tens of thousands of web visitors read his articles and posts. Aaron's thoroughly researched guides are among the most-read lawsuit funding articles over the past year.
As Strategy Director of Express Legal Funding, Aaron has devoted thousands of hours to advocating for the consumer. His "it factor" is that he is a tireless and inventive thought leader who has made great strides by conveying his legal knowledge and diverse expertise to the public. More clients and lawyers understand the facts about pre-settlement funding because of Aaron's legal and financial service SEO mastery.
Aaron Winston is the author of A Word For The Wise. A Warning For The Stupid. Canons of Conduct, which is a book in poetry format. It consists of 35 unique canons. The book was published in 2023.
He keeps an academic approach to business that improves the consumer's well-being. In early 2022, Aaron gained the Search Engine Optimization and the Google Ads LinkedIn skills assessment badges. He placed in the top 5% of those who took the SEO skills test assessment.
Aaron's company slogans and lawsuit funding company name are registered trademarks of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. He has gained positive notoriety via interviews and case studies, which are a byproduct of his successes. Aaron R. Winston was featured in a smith.ai interview (2021) and a company growth case study (2022).
In 2023, Aaron and Express Legal Funding received accolades in a leading SEO author case study performed by the leading professionals at WordLift. The in-depth data presented in the pre-settlement funding SEO case study demonstrate why Aaron Winston maintains a high-author E-E-A-T. His original writing and helpful content continue to achieve unprecedented success and stand in their own class.
Aaron was born in Lubbock, TX, where he spent the first eight years of his life. Aaron attended Akiba Academy of Dallas, TX.