Everyone knows assault is a crime. Physical attacks and credible threats of bodily injury deserve serious attention from police. Prosecutions are warranted when investigations show that someone accused of assault did cause a serious injury or inflict significant psychological trauma and emotional distress.
The same harms that make an assault a criminal offense can also provide grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. Such a lawsuit falls into the category of legal actions called intentional torts.
“Tort” is the legal term for a harm. A tort can be inflicted negligently, recklessly, or intentionally. Most personal injury cases involve alleged negligence, such as speeding or following too closely and injuring someone else in a car crash. The at-fault driver behaved negligently by ignoring traffic laws and not operating safely, and they hurt another individual without meaning to do so.
Reckless actions are those taken without regard to the consequences. The most common example of a personal injury case involving reckless behavior is a drunk driving lawsuit. The intoxicated driver took the wheel while showing zero concern for the harm they could cause.
An intentional tort, then, is exactly what the name implies—harm inflicted while meaning to cause injuries, pain and suffering. As with any other type of personal injury, the victim of an intentional tort can sue to make the person who willfully harmed them provide compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future earnings, and pain and suffering.
As Columbus-based lawyers who have advised and represented many assault victims all across Ohio, we cannot pretend that these are easy cases. First, nearly all go to a jury trial. Winning in court requires convincing jurors that the defendant intended to injure or cause suffering. A defendant and their legal team will have many arguments against claims of intent.
The good news here is that the plaintiff and their attorney are allowed to use all the evidence and testimony that the police collected while doing their criminal investigation. It will not matter to the outcome of the personal injury lawsuit whether the defendant was convicted, acquitted, or pled to a lesser charge. Only the facts showing intent will be relevant and admissible during the proceedings of the intentional tort case.
An unrelated, but essential, concern is that the defendant will almost certainly be personally responsible for paying a negotiated settlement or jury award from an intentional tort case. Insurance policies almost never carry intentional acts by policyholders.
Assessing the financial resources of the person who committed the assault needs to be done early in the process. Moving forward with a lawsuit often only makes sense when it is clear that the defendant has the money to adequately compensate the victim.
If you believe you have an intentional tort case that is worth pursuing, contact an assault attorney with Agee Clymer to let us know how we may be able to help. You can schedule a free consultation online. You can also speak with a lawyer by calling (614) 221-3318.