Simple Guide to Suing for Battery

While most battery cases are handled in criminal courts, if prosecutors are unwilling or unable to bring a case, you may be able to sue someone in civil court for battery. Battery is generally defined as the intentional touching of another person in a harmful or offensive manner, without consent. But a seemingly straightforward battery claim can be surprisingly complicated.

Here’s a simple guide to battery lawsuits:

Battery Elements

There are four main components to any battery claim:

  1. Intent — This is a little tricky because, while you must prove that the person intended to commit an act of unwanted contact, you don’t have to prove that the person intended the result. For instance, if someone tries to hit someone else and hits you instead, that intent would transfer and would be enough.
  2. Contact — As opposed to assault, which is a threat to touch, actual contact must be made, but it doesn’t have to be with your actual body. If someone make’s non-consensual contact with your “extended personality” like a necklace, piece of clothing, or purse, for example, that is also battery.
  3. Harm — In this context, harm doesn’t mean a physical injury, but rather that manner of the contact was harmful or offensive, like snatching something away from you or a shove that doesn’t leave a mark.
  4. Damages — If there is some physical injury, damage to your property, or emotional harm caused by the battery, you may be entitled to compensation.

Battery Evidence

In straightforward cases like bar fights, it can be easy to prove someone’s intent — he threw a punch and hit me in the face. Other cases, like in crowds, can be more difficult — did she mean to knock me to the ground? So, too, can proving harm, especially if someone claims to have differing standards of offensive. Proving the other elements of contact and damages may be easier, but require certain evidence, like photos or video of the incident or bills for medical care or damaged property.

If you’re thinking about filing a battery lawsuit, your first step should be to find the right personal injury attorney for you and consult her about your case.

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