Burlington County, NJ Law Blog

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Intentional Torts Of Assault And Battery

Under the category of personal injury suits, there are the intentional torts, or wrongs, that are categorized as an assault or a battery.  Either tort may be present independently.

One may be found civilly liable for the intentional tort of assault if the offender acted with the intent to “cause a harmful or offensive contact” or the “imminent apprehension of such contact” to another person.  Sometimes, a mere threat might be enough if it would cause a “reasonable person” to believe he or she would be attacked. 

On the other hand, if the supposed victim was not aware of the other person’s presence or was not aware of the threat, an assault action may not be viable.  An assault that escalates to “nonconsensual [bodily] contact” would be considered a battery.  “Contact” may not need to be accompanied with pain or even physical injury to be classified as such.

Was your assault or battery the result of self-defense or a mistake?   You need to consult an attorney to know what types of civil penalties you may face.  An attorney can advise you of any defenses available as well.  Further, counsel can educate you regarding the burden of proof required to demonstrate each defense. 

For self-defense, an attorney must evaluate whether you exerted more force than reasonably required to protect yourself or a third person from death or serious damage.  If so, then this defense would not be feasible.   Furthermore, if retreat was possible without suffering injury, the defense may fail.  You, or a third party involved, may not have taken action unless an “actual or apparent imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury” was created by the aggressor.  Other defenses available may include consent and privilege.

Additionally, an attorney can advise you of any other factors that affect your culpability.  Counsel will evaluate the circumstances of your case and whether police response was adequate or unjustified. 

If you would like to file a lawsuit, it is wise to consult an attorney as soon as possible because the statute of limitations for an assault or battery claim in New Jersey is limited.  Furthermore, an attorney can educate you on the type of damages available and whether you may be compensated for pain and suffering. 

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