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Definition - What does Assault mean?

Assault is the willful actions of one individual against another which creates apprehension, the threat of injury, or actual injury. A person may be charged with assault even if there is no actual physical contact; apprehension and imminent harm may be sufficient.

For example, a person who combines verbal threats with other physical actions to create an apprehension in the victim that there is an intention to injure may be charged with assault (i.e. someone who holds a gun to a person’s head with or without the intention to shoot the victim).

Consider, however, there must be true fear and apprehension on the part of the victim. The court will make this determination by deciding what actions were likely to create an apprehension in a “reasonable person.”

The courts may also not care whether there was actual intention, only whether the victim believed they were being threatened. With this standard the court may also have different rulings for different individuals. For example, what could scare a child may not be the same as what could scare an adult.

Assault and civil liability

Although assault can be a criminal offense, it can also be a tort and can result in civil as well as criminal liability. For example, if you are attacked and injured by another person they may be charged criminally by the state for assault and battery, but they also may be civilly liable for damages they have caused you.

To receive compensation for your injuries, however, you must file a civil claim against them in civil court. Evidence can be produced by both you and the defendant. If the court determines the defendant is liable for your injuries, due to their intentional or unintentional actions, you may receive compensation for your loss. Compensation may also be paid regardless of whether or not the defendant is charged or convicted of a crime.

Compensation for assault

Compensation can include payment for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If the court determines the defendant should be punished for their actions they may also force them to pay punitive damages.

All civil injury cases must be filed within a pre-determined time-frame. Failure to file your case prior to the statute of limitations could forfeit your right to compensation.

Talk to an injury lawyer if you have questions about your rights after an assault.

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