What is an assault and battery lawsuit?
If someone attacks you and injures you, they might be arrested and charged criminally with assault and battery. But assault and battery is also a civil cause of action – the person who caused your injuries is liable for the damage they caused, and they are most likely liable for punitive damages as well.
When can you sue for assault and battery? Below, we will look at the basics of assault and battery civil lawsuits in SC, including:
- When you can sue for assault and battery,
- The elements of an assault and battery civil cause of action,
- When you can sue the attacker’s employer, and
- Some examples of assault and battery lawsuits.
Assault and Battery Civil Lawsuits
If you are assaulted without justification, the person who attacked you might get arrested. Or they might not. They might be convicted of assault and battery, or they might not. They might be ordered to pay restitution as part of their criminal case, but they might not.
A criminal conviction is not necessary for you to file an assault and battery lawsuit, and the standard of proof is lower in a civil case (preponderance of the evidence) than it is in a criminal case (beyond a reasonable doubt).
When can you sue for assault and battery in civil court, and when can you get compensation through the criminal courts?
When Can You Sue for Assault and Battery?
Many people would have a civil claim for assault and battery – except their attackers are not likely to have resources to pay their damages. One consideration in every civil case, including civil claims for assault and battery, is whether there is a source of recovery.
Even when you can prove the elements of assault and battery, most attorneys will not accept your case unless the attacker has assets with which they can pay a judgment, there is insurance that will cover a judgment, or the attacker’s employer is also liable for their actions.
Won’t I Get Restitution in the Criminal Case?
The attacker may be arrested, they might be prosecuted, and they might be convicted. If they are, and if you are proactive in communicating with the prosecutor, the court may order restitution as part of the attacker’s sentence.
Restitution might reimburse you for your medical expenses, but 1) it will not compensate you for all categories of damages that you would be entitled to in an assault and battery lawsuit, and 2) the restitution will most likely be paid over time as the defendant is forced to make monthly payments through the probation office.
Although restitution will not fully compensate you for the damage that was caused, in many cases it is the only recourse because the attacker would be unable to pay any civil judgment in an assault and battery lawsuit.
If you are not sure whether you have a valid assault and battery lawsuit or whether the defendant would be able to pay a judgment against them, give us a call at (843) 576-5775 or send a message through our website to set up a free case evaluation to determine whether we can help.
Elements of an Assault and Battery Civil Claim in SC
The most common types of assault and battery lawsuits involve one or more of the following claims:
- A lawsuit against the individual who assaulted you,
- A lawsuit against their employer under the theory of respondeat superior, negligent hiring, or negligent retention, and
- A lawsuit against their employer or other businesses for failing to protect you.
What do you need to prove for an assault and battery civil claim in SC?
Assault is when a person threatens harm, verbally or physically (threatening to hit you or swinging a baseball bat towards you, for example).
Battery is when a person follows through with their threat by physically contacting your person (a punch, kick, shove, or gunshot, for example).
Because you must prove damages for an assault and battery lawsuit, most cases will involve physical contact of some sort that results in injuries.
Claims Against Businesses or Other Employers
Because individuals often do not have the resources to pay a judgment against them, most assault and battery lawsuits are also filed against the attacker’s employer or other businesses that can be held liable for the assault.
Under the theory of respondeat superior (Latin for “let the master answer”) an individual’s employer is liable for their employee’s actions when those actions were during the scope and course of their employment.
This means that, if a security guard or bouncer assaults you and forcefully ejects you from an establishment without justification, or if they use excessive force while ejecting you from the establishment, their employer may be liable because ejecting people from the establishment is part of their job description.
On the other hand, if a coworker gets angry and punches you on your lunch break, the employer is probably not going to be liable because your coworker’s actions were probably not within the course and scope of their job duties.
Negligent Hiring and Negligent Retention
Negligent hiring is a cause of action for when an employer hires an employee whom they knew or should have known was dangerous.
When that employee then hurts someone, whether it is a coworker or a customer on a delivery, the employer is then liable for the damage that they caused – injuries that would not have happened if the employer had not been negligent in their hiring and retention of a dangerous employee.
Failure to Protect
Businesses may have a duty to protect their customer and others who use their property – if a business negligently fails to protect and it results in an assault on their property, they are liable for the damages caused just as the attacker is liable.
Depending on the circumstances, businesses may be responsible for providing:
- Security on their premises,
- Video cameras,
- Adequate lighting in parking lots, parking garages, stairwells, and elevators, and
- Properly functioning door locks.
Examples of Assault and Battery Lawsuits in SC
Although the individual, employer, or other businesses may be liable anytime a person is assaulted, some of the more common types of cases include:
- Bouncers or security guards attacking a customer without justification or using excessive force on a customer,
- Vehicular assaults,
- Sexual assaults,
- Domestic violence,
- Assaults by staff on nursing home residents,
- Broken hotel room door locks that make an assault possible,
- Assaults in parking garages or elevators where no security was provided, and
- Assaults on children by daycare workers.
Questions About Assault and Battery Lawsuits in Charleston, SC?
If you are a victim of assault in SC, consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer immediately who can help you to determine whether you have an assault and battery lawsuit, whether there is a valid source of recovery, and what your next steps should be.
Call us at 843-576-5775 to schedule an appointment for a free consultation at our Greenville, North Charleston, or Walterboro offices, or send us a message through our website.