Have you been injured by an assault, battery or other intentional act committed by another person? The right Phoenix personal injury lawyer can assist you in obtaining compensation for your injuries. The Kelly Law Team is available to represent clients who have suffered injuries not only as the result of negligence, but also as the result of assault and battery, including sexual assaults, harmful sexually-related conduct, and other intentional torts.
What are Intentional Torts?
When most people think about pursuing a damage claim for personal injuries, they imagine car crashes, slip and fall cases, injuries suffered in the workplace, doctor mistakes (medical malpractice) and similar situations. All of these claims have one thing in common – they resulted from an accident, that is, an unplanned, unintentional act. Some of these causes of action require proof of negligence; others, like work-related claims that fall under the umbrella of workers’ compensation, do not require such proof. But none require that the claimant prove that the defendant in the case or anyone else acted with the intent to cause a particular result.
Assault and battery on the other hand, are two of a number of civil causes of action known as “intentional torts.” Each of these torts (or civil wrongs) require some intentional act on the part of the person you are claiming against. Generally, the intent required is intent to do a specific act. You are not required to prove, for example, that the defendant intended to cause you a specific injury, or, in some cases, any injury at all.
The fact that a particular act may also constitute a crime is largely irrelevant to your civil damage case. If you have been the victim of a criminal assault, you are not required to sit back and be satisfied with the results of the criminal justice process. The person who struck or otherwise assaulted you may or may not be charged criminally, and he may or may not be convicted of a crime. Whatever happens on the criminal side, you are free to pursue your claim for civil damages against that person.
There are a host of intentional torts that can support a claim for damages. They include not only assault and battery, but also false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud, conversion, libel, slander, abuse of process, malicious prosecution, and trespass, among others. The bulk of damage claims based upon intentional torts, however, involve assault and/or battery of one form or another.
Types of Assault and Battery
Assault and battery, while often used together (and inaccurately considered by some to be the same tort) actually present two distinct causes of action, although they are often both present in an incident that leads to a claim for damages. A civil cause of action for assault in Arizona requires that you prove that the defendant:
- Intended to cause offensive contact with, or harm to, you or a third person, or intended to cause apprehension of such immediate harm or contact; and
- Caused apprehension of immediate harm or contact; and
- You suffered damages.
The definition of “offensive” contact is contact that would offend a reasonable person.
Therefore in a civil case in Arizona, the assault consists essentially of causing apprehension of offensive contact, but no actual contact is necessary. Battery, on the other hand, includes the actual contact, and this is the only difference between the evidence required to prove liability in an assault case or a battery case. Having said that, the two are often part and parcel of the same claim for damages.
Some of the confusion over the use of the terms “assault” and “battery” stems from the fact that in Arizona, the threat and the physical contact are treated separately on the civil side, whereas both actions fall under the heading of assault under the Arizona Criminal Code. Here are some examples of incidents that could lead to a civil assault and/or battery claim:
- Example 1. You are enjoying a sandwich at a local restaurant, when two patrons get into an argument. One of them throws a punch, intending to strike his companion, but mistakenly hits you in the jaw. You require medical attention and suffer other damage. You have a claim for battery against the person who struck you, even though he did not intend to hit you.
- Example 2. Your neighbor, thinking that he has suffered some (imaginary) wrong for which you are responsible, walks over to you in your yard carrying a baseball bat, and starts swinging it in your direction, saying that he’s going to get even with you. You are fearful of being hit, and in order to avoid the bat, you back up and trip over your child’s bicycle that was lying in the yard. In the process you break your arm. Your claim for assault against your neighbor includes not only the terror you had to endure, but also your broken arm.
There are a limitless number of possible scenarios that will support an assault and/or battery claim. Mr. Kelly can advise you as to the appropriate legal action that can be taken if you find yourself having been the object of such conduct.
As with other types of assault, victims of sexual assault and sexual molestation may sue their attackers and others who have committed a sexually-related offense. Sexual assaults can range from inappropriate touching, to molestation, to forcible rape, to introducing date rape drugs into a drink, and numerous other behaviors. In addition to having someone physically attack, batter or touch you, you can also be the victim of emotional trauma based upon the creation of an environment filled with sexual threats, sexual innuendo and other inappropriate action. These sexually-related actions can cause serious, permanent, and even life-threatening injuries. In most cases, the damages also have an emotional component that may be as disabling and traumatic as the infliction of severe bodily harm.
If you have been the victim of a sexual assault, or the target of other inappropriate sexual behavior, the Kelly Law Team is here to help. We can assist in helping to find the appropriate care to deal with your injuries, both physical and emotional. And Mr. Kelly will use his extensive experience as a trial attorney to aggressively pursue your damage claim.
Damages in Intentional Tort Cases
There are numerous categories of damage that you may suffer as a victim of an intentional tort. The allowable damages include more than just reimbursement for your out-of-pocket expenses, and may consist, depending of the nature of your case and the extent of your injuries, of the following:
- Medical expenses. This is one aspect of the economic injury you might suffer. The cost of emergency room and other hospital visits, doctor appointments, medication, and any other cost of your medical care can be included in your claim for damages.
- Work losses. Lost wages can be a significant drain on a family’s economic situation. If your injuries resulted in your inability to work, you are entitled to be reimbursed for that loss.
- Pain, suffering and emotional distress. With non-economic damage, the question is how much would a jury consider it would be worth not to have suffered the pain you were required to endure as the result of the defendant’s intentional actions? And this includes more than just physical pain. Depending upon the facts in your case, damages might include humiliation, such as that suffered by a victim of sexual assault. Other variations of emotional distress can also support a claim for damages in an intentional tort case.
- Punitive damages. These are damages that are awarded not to compensate the victim, but to punish the wrongdoer. They are also known as “exemplary damages.” While the amount of these damages should bear some relation to the actual damage suffered, juries are given a fair amount of latitude on the amount of a punitive damage award. In order to allow an award of this type, the conduct of the defendant needs to be considered outrageous in some manner or another.
Assault Lawyer in Phoenix
Whether your case involved being struck, sexually assaulted or molested, threatened or simply placed in fear for your safety, you may have a claim as a victim of an assault, battery or other intentional tort. Remember that there are statutes of limitation that can cause you to lose your claim if you do not act within the requisite time period.
If you have been the victim of an intentional tort, contact the personal injury firm that places the interests of its clients first, and speak to an experienced trial lawyer about your case.
Call the Kelly Law Team at 602-283-4122