Assaults and other violent crimes spiked after 2015 in Baltimore. People charged with violent crimes can expect to face criminal sanctions. However, you can also sue for injuries caused by an assault in Baltimore. Enduring an assault or a battery is often a terrible ordeal. You may be left with bruises and broken bones. Your trust in a friend or a family member can also be broken by the assault. Victims often suffer physical and mental trauma and have to take time off work. People who experience assaults don’t always realize they may be able to sue their attacker, notwithstanding any criminal prosecution. The civil system is separate from the criminal justice system. Victims of an assault in Baltimore may be able to sue their attacker even if he or she is acquitted of criminal charges. Assaults are called intentional torts because the attacker intended harm. The majority of injuries associated with car accidents are not intentional.
If a civil court finds a party liable for an act of violence like an assault, he or she may have to pay monetary damages to the victim. The civil justice system plays two important roles in relation to assaults in Baltimore. It often gives victims and their families a sense of justice that the criminal system fails to provide. It also provides money that helps pay medical bills and other costs associated with the injuries caused by an assault. Baltimore personal injury lawyer Randolph Rice is here to explain what to do if you suffered injuries after being assaulted in Maryland.
Types of Injuries from Assault in Baltimore
Personal injury cases involve making a recovery for damages. Assault cases are no different. Damages in an assault case can be physical injuries, psychological damages, or both. An assault does not always involve physical contact. A legitimate fear of violence can result in an assault charge. The assault must have caused some loss, whether a physical injury or emotional harm. A traumatic event like an attack can cause conditions like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety that may result in time off work or even the loss of the victim’s job.
Compensation in a civil case is meant to make the victim “whole.” In other words, the assault victim receives money for the harm and additional costs caused by the violent act. Many acts of violence are committed within the family. The courts changed the law related to whether a spouse can be held liable in recent years.
In the past, a husband and wife could not sue each other. The controversial doctrine called interspousal tort immunity was ditched by the courts. The 1978 case of Lusby v. Lusby involved a wife who alleged her husband pointed a gun at her and raped her. The Court of Appeals of Maryland ruled a wife could sue her husband for domestic violence damages and vice versa.
If an assault was committed by someone working in a professional capacity you may be able to sue his or her employee or a management company. Examples include a nightclub bouncer who punches and seriously injures a guest, a restaurant worker who intentionally hurts a diner or an assault carried out by theme park workers at the park.
In 2017, a family from Illinois sued Six Flags Great America for an alleged assault on a 12-year-old at the park by staff.
Assault by Police Officer
Alleged assaults and killings by police officers made news headlines in recent years. In 2015, the City of Baltimore paid $6.5 million to the family of Freddie Grey, a man who died in police custody. The Department of Justice declined to charge the police officers involved. People who suffered injuries in custody have sued police and sheriff’s departments.
Reasons to Sue for Injuries Caused by an Assault in Baltimore
The publication Civil Justice for Victims of Crime in Maryland points out filing a civil suit may help victims where restitution and state compensation fail to cover losses. Victims have greater control over a civil suit than a criminal prosecution because they are the party bringing the action, typically through their lawyers.
Civil actions after assaults in Baltimore and other parts of Maryland can allow the victims to recover for a range of monetary damages they suffered such as lost income, past and future medical expenses related to the assault, and pain and suffering, both physical and emotional. Serious assaults are very traumatic incidents. It can take the victim years to come to terms with an attack.
Filing a personal injury lawsuit against an alleged abuser or assailant gives the victims a day in court and a chance to confront their attacker. Victims can also require their alleged assailants to give information under oath during deposition hearings. This can be invaluable information that helps an attorney if the case goes to trial.
Can You Sue for an Assault in Baltimore When a Defendant is Acquitted?
A civil action may be successful when a defendant is acquitted of a crime by a jury or charges are dropped. This is because the burden of proof – the standard that has to be proved – is different.
The case of the football player and movie star O.J Simpson illustrates the principle. Simpson was accused of the murder of his former wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ronald Goldman. A jury found Simpson not guilty of the killings in 1995 at the end of a controversial criminal trial. Family members of Brown and Goldman brought a civil wrongful death action against Simpson. At the end of the trial in 1997, Simpson was found liable for the deaths. The court ordered him to pay $33.5 million in damages. The different burdens of proof in the two hearings meant the verdicts were not as inconsistent as they seemed.
In a criminal case, the evidence must prove the defendant committed the crime “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In the civil case, a defendant can be found liable for injuries on a fair “preponderance of the evidence.” If the jury believes there is a 51 percent chance the defendant was responsible for the injuries he or she can be liable for damages. A criminal conviction may boost the chances of the accused ending up paying damages but it is not a requirement.
Suing for Intentional Acts of Harm in Maryland
Assaults and batteries are some of the most common so-called intentional torts in Maryland. If another person strikes you, offensively touches you, or threatens harm, they may have committed assault or battery. If you suffered physical or mental pain and suffering or economic damages, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit against your attacker. Other intentional torts in Maryland include:
- False Imprisonment
- Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
Talk to an Experienced Baltimore Assault Injury Lawyer Today
Thousands of assaults are committed every year in Baltimore. Only a small fraction of the attacks that end up in criminal trials will also involve a civil lawsuit. There are many obstacles to suing over an assault in Maryland. The insurance system is not set up to deal with these claims in the same routine way insurers process payments over car, truck, and motorcycle wrecks. A Maryland personal injury lawyer will advise you on your likelihood of success in these claims. Victims of assaults are more likely to be successful in civil actions when the attack causes serious injuries or emotional trauma.
In some cases, an employer such as a hotel, a nightclub, or a restaurant may be held liable for the aggressive actions of its employees. The attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras can advise you of your rights. Please contact us today.