People often think of assault and battery as criminal offenses, which they are. However, if you have been threatened with physical violence or injured in a physical altercation with others, you may have a civil cause of action against the assailant independent of whether or not the authorities charged the person with criminal assault and battery. You may also have a civil cause of action against the commercial establishment where the incident occurred under certain circumstances, such as if the business was negligent in providing security or serving alcohol.
An assault occurs when the conduct of a person places a person in reasonable fear of bodily harm. Generally, this conduct must rise above abusive words and must consist of threats accompanied by an expression of intent to inflict injury. The standard by which such incidents are judged is whether a person of ordinary reason and firmness would be in fear due to the conduct and surrounding circumstances. There must be reasonable grounds for the fear and a vain or idle threat is insufficient to meet this standard.
A battery occurs when a person inflicts unlawful, unauthorized contact with or violence upon another, regardless of the degree or extent. A blow or strike is not required and any forcible contact meets the standard. Similarly, intent to inflict injury is not required. The most common defense to an action for assault and battery is self-defense. Where a person is acting in self-defense to repel an unlawful attack, generally, they cannot be held liable for assault and battery that occurs in response.
Holding a Business Responsible for Assault and Battery
Assault and battery can occur in a variety of contexts and often results in devastating physical and emotional injury. It is important to locate all potentially responsible parties in addition to the assailant, such as owners and operators of businesses, bars and restaurants, security firms, and even the employers of assailants who were acting in the course and scope of their employment at the time of the attack in order to increase the chances that the victim can be made whole.
Assault and Battery Insurance
Many commercial general liability insurance policies and liquor liability insurance policies have exclusions or sub-limits of coverage for injuries arising from an intentional act or from assault and battery. A failure to properly navigate these exclusions or sub-limits could result in the inability to recover for a life altering injury or death due to an assault and battery.
Assault and Battery Attorney
Selection of competent and experienced counsel is crucial to placing yourself in the best position to maximize your recovery following an assault and battery. If you have been injured as the result of an assault and battery, contact us to discuss the legal options available to you.