Assault and Battery Injury Lawyer in Los Angeles
Thousands of people every year in Los Angeles and surrounding areas are victims of violent crimes, such as assault and battery, assault with deadly weapons, and sexual assaults.
Anyone who has suffered physical and emotional harm from these acts has the legal right to pursue justice by filing a civil personal injury lawsuit against all at-fault parties.
At Injury Justice Law Firm, we have helped victims seriously injured from acts of violence seek monetary compensation. We want to ensure that you are fully compensated for the physical and emotional harm you have suffered.
Our injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don't have to pay any out-of-pocket fees unless we win compensation on your case.
Assault occurs when someone intends to cause physical harm and has the means at the time of the threat to act upon it. Battery is the unlawful touching of someone without the victim's consent resulting in some physical harm.
In California, assault and battery are criminal offenses punishable by jail time and fines—but if you suffer loss or injury as a victim of these acts, the law allows you to seek civil damages via an intentional tort lawsuit.
Proving intentional tort is not always easy, even if the defendant has been charged separately with a crime. Hiring an experienced Los Angeles tort attorney offers the best chance of recovering damages if you've been a victim of assault and battery.
What Is Intentional Tort?
An intentional tort is a legal term to describe a civil wrong—a wrongful act resulting in damages or harm—committed on purpose.
If you file an intentional tort lawsuit, you are filing a personal injury claim—similarly to if you sue an at-fault driver in a car accident or a property owner for a slip-and-fall accident.
The difference is that instead of proving that your injury occurred due to someone's negligence, you're claiming that your injury occurred due to that person's willful act. If you file an intentional tort lawsuit, your attorney must demonstrate two key elements:
- The defendant committed the harmful action intentionally; and
- The defendant had reasonable knowledge that the action could have negative consequences.
It's important to note with intentional tort that, you don't have to prove the defendant intended to harm you—only that the act itself was intentional and that the defendant knew the repercussions could be harmful.
What Does the Law Say?
In California, the terms “assault” and “battery” mean two different things, even though they often occur together:
- Assault is defined in California Penal Code 240 PC as “an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.” An assault occurs when someone tries to harm you physically or makes you fear that they are about to do so. You don't have to be harmed for an assault to occur—the attempt itself is considered assault and is against the law.
- Battery is defined in California Penal Code 242 PC as “any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.” A battery occurs when someone makes physical contact with you in a harmful or offensive way.
So, taken together in simple terms, assault is the attempt to commit violence while the battery is committing it.
Assault and Battery as Intentional Torts
While assault and battery can both be charged as crimes in California, that doesn't necessarily mean the defendant will have to compensate you for your injury or losses if they are found guilty. This is where the concept of intentional tort comes in.
For example, if a person commits assault or battery against you and you suffer injury or harm; as a result, California law permits you to seek damages against that person in an intentional tort claim to cover both the tangible cost of your injuries and the intangible pain and suffering their actions caused you. Let's consider a couple of examples to see how this works.
Example 1: Bill and Fred get into an argument at a bar. In a moment of rage, Fred raises his arm and “takes a swing” at Bill, trying to hit him.
Bill manages to dodge the blow but trips over a chair and falls to the floor, fracturing his tailbone. Even though Fred never made physical contact with Bill, his intentional act of assault caused Bill to be injured. As a result, he can file an intentional tort claim against Fred to cover his medical bills, lost wages, etc.
Example 2: Josephine discovers that her best friend Jill has been having an affair with her husband. Enraged, Josephine goes to Jill's house and physically attacks her with a crowbar.
Jill suffers a broken jaw from the direct hit by the crowbar and breaks her arm while falling to the ground. As a result, not only does Josephine now face felony charges of both assault and battery, but Jill can file an intentional tort claim for the physical injuries caused by Josephine's deliberate attack.
What Type of Physical Harm is Common in Assault and Battery Cases?
Acts of aggression or violence against another can cause several types of common physical and psychological injuries, such as the following:
- Head trauma resulting in traumatic brain injury;
- Broken bones, including cracked ribcage;
- Facial injuries, such as cuts and abrasions;
- Scarring that may require cosmetic surgery;
- Eye injury causing partial or loss of vision;
- Spinal cord injury;
- Organ damage, such as the kidney or liver;
Claiming Damages for Intentional Tort Assault and Battery
You can recover three types of damages in an intentional tort lawsuit: economic, noneconomic, and punitive.
Economic damages are the more straightforward losses covering medical bills, lost wages, property damage, etc. You will need supporting documentation like receipts and payroll records to prove your economic damages.
Noneconomic damages are more difficult to quantify but are just as important in compensation for the full extent of your injuries.
These include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment, and scarring or disfigurement. While there is no set formula for calculating noneconomic damages, your Los Angeles intentional tort attorney will work with you to determine the exact scope of your damages to ensure you receive a fair settlement for your claim.
You can ask the court to award punitive damages if you provide evidence that the defendant acted with fraud, malice, or oppression. In other words, they intentionally injured you with blatant disregard for your well-being. Punitive damages are solely intended to “punish” the defendant financially for their behavior.
Under California's premises liability laws, property owners owe guests on their property a duty of care. This duty includes protecting them from all known or knowable dangers associated with entry into their property.
If you have been a victim of assault and battery, and have suffered serious injuries, contact our law firm for a free case evaluation. The personal injury lawyer at Injury Justice Law Firm is located in Los Angeles, California.