Personal Injury - Assault and Battery

While assault and battery are often stated together, they are two distinct actions. They also fall into the separate categories of crimes and intentional torts. The latter classification could lead to a personal injury lawsuit in civil court.

What is the difference between assault and battery?

The general definition of assault is a "threat or physical act that creates a reasonable apprehension of imminent harmful or offensive contact" (Wex Legal Dictionary, Cornell). The distinguishing element is that an offender acted in such a way as to cause a reasonable person (the victim) to be afraid of imminent harm. The threat of harm is the defining point.

An example of assault could include raising a fist in close proximity to another and saying "I'm going to knock you out." No actual contact is necessary under the definition of assault.

The general definition of battery is "a physical act that results in that harmful or offensive contact" (Wex Legal Dictionary, Cornell). The offender in this case must commit the harmful or offensive action 'on purpose' and make physical contact with the victim. It is not necessary, however, for the victim to suffer physical harm.

Examples of battery can be "direct and immediate" (hitting or shoving someone), "indirect and immediate" (throwing something at someone that makes contact), or "indirect and remote" (sabotaging a vehicle that later causes an accident).

Our attorneys will discuss the details of your situation to help you decide if you should pursue a civil lawsuit for the intentional torts of assault and battery.

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