Assault and Battery
Extreme threats and physical violence can happen anywhere and cause bodily and emotional injuries that persist long after the attack.
There is often confusion as to what the terms “assault” and “battery” mean, which is made more complicated by the fact that their definitions differ between various state jurisdictions. Generally, an assault is the unlawful act of putting another person in fear for their safety and autonomy, whereas battery is actually following through with the threat, making injurious or unpermitted physical contact.
There are a wide range of assault and battery cases that an experienced personal injury attorney can provide guidance regarding, including:
- Medical Battery
- Nursing Home Abuse
- Nursing Home Neglect
- Domestic Violence
- Sexual Battery
- False Arrest
- False Imprisonment
- Road Rage Incidents
- Fights at Bars or Sporting Events
Because assault and battery are both criminal offenses as well as torts (civil wrongs), victims are entitled to press charges with law enforcement to pursue criminal prosecution of offenders and also seek compensation in civil courts for the attack they suffered.
The first step in applying for SSDI benefits is proving the existence of a disability to the SSA. Medical conditions that may result in a determination of disability include (but are not limited to):
- Bodily Harm or Injury: Inflicting pain and/or physical impairment
- Deadly Weapon: An implement that can cause serious injury or death (e.g., a knife, gun, or club)
- Knowingly: Being aware of what is occurring and the consequences of one’s actions
- Negligently: Acting in a way that is not careful enough for the circumstances
- Recklessly: Acting with deliberate disregard for the consequences of one’s actions
Physical harm is not required to prove that someone has committed an assault. All that must be shown is that the offender intended to make their victim fear that they would be harmed and that the victim did in fact feel justifiably concerned for their safety.
Mere words, even if they are violent threats to kill someone, are rarely enough to constitute assault. Most courts will require a showing that the offender had taken some step — such as pointing a weapon or raising their closed fist in a menacing manner — that put them in a position to carry out their threat.
Definitions of assault vary by state. In Pennsylvania, “simple assault” refers to:
- Putting another in fear of serious bodily injury
- Attempts to cause bodily injury
- Knowingly and recklessly causing bodily injury
- Negligently causing bodily injury with a deadly weapon
- Purposely hiding a hypodermic needle with the intent to injure a law enforcement or corrections officer during a search
When an offender makes actual physical contact in an impermissible manner, they have committed a battery, which is a separate offense from assault, though the two often arise from the same set of circumstances.
For example, if the offender threatens to throw a rock at someone and then follows through but misses, they have only committed an assault. If they do not miss and the rock hits and injures the victim, the offender has committed an assault and a battery.
Not all batteries involve physical injuries. Some are better described as violations of another’s autonomy and dignity, such as blowing smoke or spitting in another’s face, making unwanted sexual contact, or grabbing a person with the intent to control their movements.
In Pennsylvania, there is no statute addressing battery. Instead the laws of the commonwealth describe such behavior as “aggravated assault,” which is an attempt to cause serious bodily injury to another where the offender showed “extreme indifference to the value of human life.”
Even if the attempt to cause bodily injury was not serious, a simple assault can be automatically elevated to an aggravated assault for certain protected classes of individuals:
- First Responders (e.g., EMTs, Firefighters)
- Police and Corrections Officers
Because assault and battery are intentional torts, most insurance companies will not cover their policyholders that commit them. The vast majority of insurance policies specifically disclaim coverage for intentional acts.
However, some assault and battery cases involve negligence, such as carelessly injuring another with a firearm, which would not constitute an intentional act. Furthermore, if a business or an individual commits an assault or battery, they will be personally liable to compensate the victim.
Compensation for assault and battery can include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Nominal damages (payments to acknowledge that your rights have been invaded)
- Punitive damages (payments that punish the wrongdoer and deter others from similar behavior)
Get Expert Legal Support for Assault and Battery Cases
The personal injury attorneys at Pond Lehocky Giordano will conduct a comprehensive investigation of your case, and work closely with prosecutors to share evidence such as witness testimony. We are committed to leveraging our extensive legal expertise to hold offenders responsible for their impermissible acts and secure appropriate compensation for victims of assaults and/or batteries.
If you have been threatened, attacked, or had your personal autonomy violated and require legal guidance, contact Pond Lehocky Giordano for a free consultation to find out if you qualify for compensation. Call 1-800-568-7500 or fill out the form on this page.
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