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Assault and battery incidents can be one of the most traumatizing and terrifying experiences that one can go through. There is actually a legal distinction between assault and battery, despite their interchangeability in everyday conversation, depending on the statutes of a given state. These incidents can be extremely physically damaging and psychologically damaging to the victim, so they deserve some peace of mind and recovery following any assault or battery incident.

While there is some confusion on their use in the legal context regarding definitions or whether it is a criminal or civil matter, speaking to an experienced attorney can help you recover mentally and financially from such a frightening incident.

The Chicago personal injury attorneys at Mike Agruss Law, have helped thousands of clients to seek justice and compensation for personal injuries, and you won’t owe us a penny for our services unless we win your case. If you or a loved one has been a victim of an assault or battery, contact our office today for a free consultation.

Assault vs. Battery in the Civil Law Context

The terms “assault” and “battery” are often used interchangeably in normal conversation, however, they are two very different concepts. Both terms are considered intentional torts, torts meaning wrongs committed by one person against another and causing damage. Assault is an intentional tort meant to cause “reasonable apprehension of imminent and harmful contact.” The plaintiff need not be actually physically harmed, but the main idea here is that there was reasonable fear that they would be.  On the other hand, battery is when an individual knowingly causes bodily harm or makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature. In this case, there must be some physical contact and injury.

The two terms can be used in the civil context or the criminal context. in criminal cases, the state prosecutes the perpetrator; in civil cases, the victim can file a personal injury claim against the perpetrator. In the civil context, assault or battery occurs when the defendant commits an act that they should have known would cause the plaintiff to experience apprehension. In the criminal context, the state must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the defendant violated a statute in their behavior and if they had criminal intent. Criminal charges can result in imprisonment and can be considered a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the incident.

Types of Assault and Battery 

Assault and battery can occur in countless places. However, some of the most common scenarios of assault and battery accidents occur in the following locations:

  • Fights at a bar or club
  • Fights at school, home, work, or sporting events
  • Sexual assault
  • Domestic violence

Proving Liability in a Civil Case of Assault or Battery

A civil case may be a better route over a criminal case (if applicable) in the case that the incident caused some costly damages. This way, you can get fair compensation for your damages and losses. A key element in proving a civil case of these crimes is that only the defendant meant to commit the act that threatened the victim. The victim must establish some other elements in order to prove that the defendant committed the intentional torts of assault or battery. First, that the defendant committed the act that causes intentional physical, verbal, or emotional distress to your body or property. Then, that this contact was harmful and you did not consent to it.

The defendant and their lawyers may use a few defenses to dispute the plaintiff’s claim. One defense could be consent, which says that the victim consented to the possibility of harm. This may apply in cases concerning sports or recreational activities. Some cases of sports assault or battery may not be valid or accepted in the legal context since they may be an element of consent. Another defense may be privilege, which arises sometimes in law enforcement disputes. If a victim files a claim against a law enforcement officer, their position of privilege may protect them if it is decided that they used a reasonable and appropriate amount of force in the incident.

Damages That Can Be Recovered

Some cases of assault and battery can come with a sudden and large financial burden. With the help of one of our attorneys, we can help you to get monetary damages in a successful claim. Some common damages that you can recover after a successful personal injury claim include the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering
  • Psychological counseling
  • Loss of reputation
  • Loss of consortium

If you or a loved one has been a victim of an assault or battery, contact our office today for a free consultation.

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Submitted Comments

6 months ago
I was driving Uber in downtown Chicago and the rider attacked me from behind, punched in my face when I looked back, he opened my driver door and threw another punch in my face, I closed the door and locked, he walked away, bruise on my lip and took a photo of it, front teeth hurt when biting food, hurts around left eye, glasses broke. I went to police station and filed police report 4 days ago, never heard back from them, the police didn\'t even ask for attacker\'s address, photo or dash cam footage when I offered, said I can give it to the detective when someone contact me, now I found the aggressor\'s full name, address, date of birth, workplace and even phone number thru some search on white page and confirmed photo on Facebook.
1 year ago
This is concerning the intentional torts of my ex. Like Amber Heard, she has Borderline Personality Disorder. Like Johnny Depp, the relationship has had horrific consequences for me. Battery-She beat me up so severely January 2020 when I lived in Chicago that I had to be taken out of my classes for the semester. She had already stalked me at my university. It lead to me losing my tenured professor position. I haven't worked since. I have the police report. TBI, hearing loss. two trips to ER. She beat me up again at a hotel in Little Rock July 2021. Have the photos of black eyes. My body looks like she whipped me. She was charged with domestic assault. Nolle prossed because I did not go to court. I am going to contact them to refile the charges. There's also a police report of her attacking me in a Vegas hotel. Fraud-She stands to get a very large settlement (over a million). Made promises to repay the money I loaned her ($30,000+), my retirement I cashed out to help support her during COVID ($70,000), 2.5% of her settlement, new Lexus, and a condo in Vegas. When I no longer had any money, she paid about $2000 and then quit. I have multiple emails documenting these promises. I would have never spent the money I did, if I knew she was lying. She turned out to be a real con. Intentional Emotional Distress-hundreds of abusive emails, harassing phone calls. I am going to get a no contact order to stop the calls. Has also contacted my family. And, had friends and family harass me. Defamation-when I started having problems with my employer after the assault, their attorney said they had received some type of information about me. I'm sure it was her. Trespass to chattels-called 911 three times when she was at my apartment threatening me. She was banned from my university. I would like to file a lawsuit and get a lien on her settlement. She really needs to be held accountable. Thanks, Tana
2 years ago
I was assaulted by an owner of a downtown bar here in Bloomington last weekend. I experienced a concussion and whiplash. He has been charged with two counts of aggravated battery. I'm just looking for a good lawyer to pursue what to do next.