While people often associate personal injury claims with accidents, not all injuries are accidents. If you were injured by someone’s intentional actions, you might have an assault claim.
Exactly when you should file an assault claim can be tricky because the defendant often faces criminal charges in addition to your civil claim. Your case might be delayed until the criminal proceedings are done, but you should still aim to file your claims before the statute of limitations expires. Assault, by definition, does not necessarily involve physical contact or harm, but it is often accompanied by claims for battery. Simple assaults, dangerous aggravated assaults, and even sexual assaults may be involved in your claim. Depending on your case, you might have significant economic and non-economic damages, and you should discuss the possibility of punitive damages with your attorney.
Schedule a free case review with our lawyers for victims of assault by calling Legal Care New Jersey at (732) 838-9769, and we will begin working on getting justice for you.
When You Should File a Lawsuit for Assault in Elizabeth, NJ
You have likely heard about people being criminally charged with assault, but you might also have civil claims for damages. Assault claims fall under the more general category of personal injuries. Although many personal injury claims are based on accidents or negligence, assaults are intentional torts.
Assault claims are usually filed when someone has been physically injured by someone else through some intentional act. Someone might punch, kick, or strike you with their own body or a weapon or instrument, and you can sue them for assault.
In the criminal world, assault covers both the crime of hitting someone and the crime of attempting to hit them. In the civil world, assault claims cover putting someone in apprehension of imminent physical harm and the actual physical contact is considered battery. When you file a civil claim “for assault,” it is usually a claim for both assault and battery.
Our lawyers for victims of assault and battery have seen various situations involving assault claims. Threats to hurt or attack you over a disagreement might constitute assault. Assault might also involve deadly weapons or instruments. Robberies, where you are threatened with a knife or a gun, involve assault and battery because you are placed in apprehension of harm by the defendant. Assault and battery might also be sexual, where someone harms or abuse you sexually.
Evidence You Need in a Lawsuit for Assault in Elizabeth, NJ
To start, we should look for witnesses. In many cases, assaults happen in front of other people. For example, a disagreement at a party that gets out of hand and becomes an assault might be witnessed by numerous other party guests. Similarly, assaults in bars or other places where alcohol is served are not unusual, and other bar patrons can testify about what they saw.
If your assault happened somewhere in public, such as on the street, in a parking garage, or a public shopping area, there might be security camera footage of the assault. This kind of evidence can help us positively identify the defendant as the person who attacked you.
The defendant might have used a weapon or dangerous instrument to threaten you. In that case, we need the weapon as part of your evidence. Not only that, but we need some other evidence that connects the defendant to the weapon. For example, a witness might testify that they saw the defendant with the weapon in their hands at the time of the assault.
If you were sexually assaulted, we need your medical records from when you were treated for your injuries. Sexual assault victims often hesitate to report their cases to the police, but you should do so quickly. The police may obtain DNA evidence that may be used to hold the defendant liable for their egregious actions.
Finally, your own testimony about what happened to you is extremely valuable to your case. Only you can testify about how the defendant put you in fear for your safety.
Damages You Can Claim as an Assault Victim in Elizabeth, NJ
Assault cases often involve a whole host of damages. Depending on your case and whether you were injured during the assault, you may claim economic, non-economic, and possibly punitive damages.
Non-economic damages encompass experiences like physical pain, emotional trauma, humiliation, fear, and more. Because these damages are based on your personal experiences rather than money, they are very subjective.
In many assault and battery cases, non-economic damages are quite high. Not only do plaintiffs often experience debilitating fear, panic, and trauma, but juries often have difficulty sympathizing with defendants. After all, the defendant intentionally caused you harm and suffering.
You can testify about how your life has changed since being assaulted. Many people fear leaving their homes, cannot enjoy hobbies or other activities, and even have a hard time going to work. Depression, anxiety, and PTSD are also common.
Economic damages are based on the money you spent because of the assault and battery. Perhaps the largest factor in economic damages for assault cases is medical bills. Although assault does not have to involve physical harm, it very often does. As such, many victims get emergency medical treatment and rack up big medical bills in the process.
Some assault and battery cases involve significant property damage. For example, the defendant might have tried to intimidate you and put you in fear for your safety by damaging or destroying your belongings. Assault cases can be frightening and chaotic, and property destruction is common.
Punitive damages might be awarded to punish the defendant rather than compensate the plaintiff for specific losses. According to N.J.S.A. § 2A:15-5.12(a), these damages may be awarded if we prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant acted with actual malice or had a wanton and willful disregard for the foreseeable harm of their behavior.
Actual malice is defined under N.J.S.A. § 2A:15-5.10. It requires intentional wrongdoing by the defendant, such as an evil-minded act. Cases of ordinary negligence are rarely met with punitive damages, but assault cases may be eligible.
If punitive damages are awarded, they are capped under N.J.S.A. § 2A:15-5.14(b). You may be awarded no more than 5 times your compensatory damages (i.e., your economic and non-economic damages) or $350,000, whichever is more.
Get in Touch with Our Elizabeth, NJ Lawyers for Victims of Assault
Set up a free case evaluation with our attorneys for victims of assault by calling Legal Care New Jersey at (732) 838-9769.