In California, many people see assault as a criminal charge. In many cases, it can be. However, it’s up to the state (specifically the District Attorney’s Office) to make the decision about whether criminal charges will be filed. Regardless of whether criminal charges are filed by the District Attorney, there are times when assault is considered personal injury in California.
What Is the Difference Between Assault and Battery?
Since assault and battery are terms that are often used together, it’s important to understand these terms. In California, an assault occurs when someone feels reasonable apprehension that they’re going to be attacked in some way. Battery occurs when an attack includes physical contact.
When it comes to assault, it doesn’t have to be intentional. It can result as an accident of some kind or an action that wasn’t planned. An experienced injury lawyer can explain more.
The Three Elements of Assault as Personal Injury in California
When it comes to assault as a personal injury claim, it often includes battery. There are three elements in assault as a personal injury:
- Fault – The victim cannot be more than 50% at fault. This is a concept known as comparative negligence. If the victim is found 20% at fault for the assault and the perpetrator is found 80% at fault, the victim would recover most of what they asked for within the confines of the law. If the victim is found 85% at fault and the perpetrator is found 15% at fault, the victim would not be able to recover any money for their injuries. If the victim is less than 50% at fault, they may recover financial damages for their injuries and for the assault.
- Documented Injury – The victim must be able to present documentation of medical treatment for their injuries. If you’ve been assaulted, make sure that you call the police. Even if the police do not arrest anyone or issue a citation, they will take a report. Get the report number from the responding officer. If you are considering contacting a lawyer to file a personal injury lawsuit, you will want to see a doctor and receive medical treatment for the injuries you suffered. Do not forget to obtain copies of the medical treatment documentation from any hospital, facility, clinic, doctor, urgent care, or other medical professional. Make sure that you keep copies of any bills as well.
- Negligence – The offender must have been legally negligent. Without the assistance of a knowledgeable injury lawyer, you may have trouble determining whether the offender meets the elements for legal negligence. What you can do is get witness information (such as names and phone numbers) and provide this information to your attorney. Your attorney can follow-up with the witnesses to determine if the offender was negligent.
Protect Your Potential Legal Rights
If you believe that you have a case for assault as a personal injury, it is important that you protect your legal rights and seek compensation for your injuries. After you’ve gotten medical treatment, contact a Orange County personal injury lawyer with experience handling assaults.
For more information on next steps for filing a civil law suit after you are assaulted, contact the injury attorneys at Dennis Law Group for a free consultation.