Not every civil lawsuit is the result of negligence or an accident. In fact, many civil cases are based on intentional torts like assault and battery.
If someone assaults you in Maryland, you have the right to sue them for damages. Assault may constitute intentional infliction of harm or a threat to inflict harm. Battery is similar to assault but involves actually striking or hitting the victim. These torts often happen together. If you are injured because of an assault and battery, you can sue the assailant. Damages related to assault can include medical bills, physical pain, emotional or mental suffering, and more. When suing for assault, you must establish specific legal elements related to the assault and the defendant’s intention.
If someone assaulted you and you were injured, our Maryland personal injury lawyers can help you sue them for your damages. For a free assessment of your case, call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291.
When Can I Sue for Assault in Maryland?
The law is complicated, and many injured people are unsure when they can and cannot file a lawsuit. People are especially confused about assault and battery because the offenses are both civil and criminal, especially since the crime of assault and the tort of battery often overlap. People sometimes mistakenly believe that you cannot sue someone for a criminal act because they are already being charged and prosecuted. In reality, you can do just that, and our Baltimore personal injury lawyers can help you.
You can sue for assault and battery if you were injured. Actual injuries are important elements of personal injury cases, without which there is no case. You should talk to a lawyer about your case as soon as possible, preferably right after receiving any necessary medical treatment. You should also file a police report about the incident, as assault is a serious crime. Although you do not necessarily have to report the crime – and many people choose not to for various reasons – juries might see this as a red flag and be less willing to believe your version of events.
It is important to know that the tort of assault does not necessarily require physical harm to the victim, but the tort of battery does. The term “assault” is often used to describe acts of physical harm, but what is really being described, legally speaking, is battery. Assault and battery tend to occur together, so lawsuits for assault often encompass the physical injuries from a battery.
Damages Available in Civil Lawsuits for Assault in Maryland
For and foremost, you should claim your medical bills from the assault and battery in your damages. Assaults may range from small fights or scuffles to violently vicious attacks. Many injured plaintiffs require immediate medical treatment and ongoing care to recover from their injuries.
Victims of assault and battery may experience broken bones, lacerations, bruising, brain damage, neck injuries, spinal cord damage, back injuries, and more. In some cases, people are so badly assaulted that they lose vision or hearing permanently. The medical treatment for assault cases may be exceptionally expensive, and you should claim these expenses in your damages.
Assault and battery are not just physically painful, but it is also emotionally devastating. Victims of violent crimes often report having difficulty adjusting to life after an attack. Assault victims may experience PTSD, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and other psychological problems. This emotional anguish is difficult to quantify for purposes of determining damages. Our Bowie personal injury lawyers can help you determine the value of your pain and suffering by assessing how they impact your ability to function every day.
Punitive Damages in Maryland Assault Cases
Punitive damages are a unique form of damages that may be awarded to punish the defendant’s bad behavior rather than compensate a plaintiff for specific losses or injuries. Punitive damages may be awarded if a plaintiff can prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant acted with evil motive, the intent to cause harm, malice, or consciousness of the wrongdoing. While punitive damages are available in Maryland personal injury cases, they are rarely awarded as the defendant’s behavior must be especially abhorrent.
Punitive damages might be available in your case depending on the defendant’s actions during the assault. An assault is an intentional act, and defendants know that what they are doing is wrong. An assault case may be a good candidate for punitive damages. Maryland has no statutory cap on punitive damages, so these damages can be quite high in serious cases. Our Columbia personal injury attorneys can review your case and help you argue for punitive damages
How to Prove Liability for a Maryland Assault Case
Assault and battery are intentional torts, and proving the defendant’s intent is crucial to your success. This is sometimes quite difficult as proving intent requires proving someone’s state of mind. Our Maryland personal injury lawyers are familiar with intentional torts and can help you gather the evidence necessary to prove the defendant’s intent to assault and injure you.
Just like any civil tort, assault has several elements that we must prove if you are to have your damages covered. First, when the defendant assaults you, they should seem as though they have the actual ability to carry out the assault. For example, if someone threatens to shoot you but they have no gun, they have no ability to carry out the assault. However, if they had a gun with them, they can be charged with assault whether or not they pulled the trigger or the gun was loaded.
The defendant should also take some positive, intentional action in the assault. Threats alone might not cut it when trying to prove an assault in civil court. The defendant should have taken some action. For example, if the defendant threatened to shoot you and proceeded to pull out their gun, simply pulling out the gun is enough to be considered assault.
Finally, you should have been placed in imminent fear of the assault. It does not matter if the defendant actually carried out the assault or not. If they threatened you, appeared to be able to carry out the threat, and took an affirmative step in carrying out the threat – even if it was a fake-out – they can be held liable for assault.
Battery is similar to assault because it requires threats and the use of force. However, battery is different because it requires actual physical force used against the victim. The civil elements of a battery include the defendant’s intent to do the act. This is different than criminal intent to do harm, and to be civilly liable, the defendant does not necessarily have to have intended the harm. Instead, they only have to have intended the battery.
Second, we must prove that the defendant made some sort of physical contact with your body. This might be done with their own hands, like throwing a punch or a slap. It might also be done with a tool or weapon.
Finally, we have to show that you were actually harmed. It is important to note that the harm need not be physical. Emotional or psychological harm may also satisfy this element. If there is no harm, there is no battery.
Contact Our Maryland Personal Injury Attorneys for Assistance
If you or someone you love was assaulted, our Ocean City personal injury lawyers can help you hold the assailant civilly liable for the attack and make them cover your damages. For a free case evaluation, call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291.