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Newark, NJ Lawyer for Victims of Assault

Assault is a crime, but it is also grounds for a civil lawsuit.  Many people might have heard the term “assault and battery,” but you might not be aware of how suing for assault and battery – separate from a criminal case – can reimburse you for medical bills and other damages related to your injuries.

When someone causes you injuries – whether intentionally or through negligence – you can turn to a personal injury lawyer for help.  Our attorneys represent injury victims and fight to get their assailants held liable in court.  This can result in damages that the criminal justice system simply does not focus on.

For help with your potential case, call our lawyers for victims of assault at Legal Care New Jersey today at (732) 838-9769.

Filing Criminal Charges vs. Suing for Assault in Newark

Many people think of assault as a crime, but you can also file for assault in civil court.  When you do so, our lawyers for victims of assault can help you get compensation for your injuries – something that the criminal courts do not heavily focus on.

Purpose of Criminal Charges

Remember that the goal of criminal charges for assault is to punish the defendant.  Whether that means fining them or locking them up in jail, the goal is to punish them for their violence and hopefully stop them from injuring others.  While this might help the victim or give them satisfaction that justice was done, it does not actually pay the victim for the harm they suffered.

Restitution vs. Damages

In some criminal assault cases, restitution is available, but this is different from civil damages.  In a criminal case, victims are often paid from a fund that the government keeps to provide “restitution” to victims.  If you suffered medical bills or faced property damage in an assault, a claim for restitution can often get you reimbursed, and the defendant will be forced to pay back the fund for the cost of your restitution.

However, restitution is not the main goal of criminal cases.  In fact, we have a civil legal system that focuses almost exclusively on this goal, and so the criminal justice system often leaves out full compensation because the prosecutors and judges know that victims can seek damages through civil claims.  Unfortunately, many crime victims do not know about this.

Criminal vs. Civil Claims for Assault in New Brunswick, NJ

If someone hits you and injures you, you can report it to the police.  In criminal court, the state brings criminal charges for the crime of assault.  As the prosecution, the government needs to prove the defendant’s actions beyond a reasonable doubt for a guilty verdict.

You can also sue in civil court for assault.  In this kind of case, you file a “cause of action” for the “tort” (the civil equivalent of a crime) of “assault” and/or “battery.”  The plaintiff (you) will need to prove your case “by a preponderance of the evidence” to win.

Some important distinctions are first who brings the case.  In a criminal case, the government prosecutes the case, but in a civil case, the victim brings the case.  Second, note that the burden of proof is lower in civil cases.  The preponderance standard is a “more likely than not” standard, and it is often easier for plaintiffs to win in civil court than for the government to win in a criminal case.

Lastly, note that the actual elements to prove are different between the crime of assault and the torts of assault and battery.  In criminal cases, assault has specific definitions of simple and aggravated assault, with various standards for injury (“bodily injury” vs. “serious bodily injury”), intent (“purposely” and “knowingly” or “recklessly”), and various specific circumstances that must be met regarding who the victim is, whether a weapon is used, etc.

In civil court, “assault” consists of the defendant intentionally putting the victim in fear that they will be imminently injured or touched in an offensive way.  “Battery” constitutes the intentional harmful or offensive touching.  In most cases, you will sue for both, but there are some situations where you could be hit from behind and have no “assault” or where you are assaulted but not actually battered (e.g., if someone points a gun at you but does not fire).

Suing for Sexual Assault and Sexual Abuse in New Brunswick, NJ

There are also specific criminal charges for sexual assault (a.k.a. rape) and criminal sexual contact (a.k.a. molestation or groping), which you can report to the police.  Each of these can also be grounds for a civil case as well.  The specific claim that you make might vary a bit based on the specific conduct involved.  However, at their cores, these cases are based on the same civil legal standards as other assault and battery claims: unwanted or offensive touching done intentionally.

Damages for Assault and Battery in New Brunswick

If your assailant caused you any injuries, you automatically faced pain and suffering.  These damages are not usually addressed in criminal restitution, so they are one of the most important reasons to take your case to civil court.  Calculating these damages is often difficult because injuries do not have a price tag.  However, our lawyers can use various methods to put a price on these damages.

Additionally, you can claim damages for economic harms you faced, such as damage to your property, medical expenses to treat your injuries, lost wages if you missed work while recovering, and other expenses related to the injury.  Some of these might be paid through restitution, but we can claim any uncompensated amounts in a civil lawsuit.

In some cases, punitive damages are also available.  This allows the civil court to punish the defendant and hopefully deter them from future assault by making them pay the victim additional money.  Courts are sometimes reluctant to double up and might not order punitive damages in a civil case where the defendant has already faced fines or jail time as punishment in a criminal case.

Call Our Attorneys for Assault Victims in New Brunswick Today

If you were the victim of assault and battery, seek help from our lawyers for victims of assault at Legal Care New Jersey by dialing (732) 838-9769.

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