Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Battery - the oft forgotten claim

In Pittsburgh, PA you can sue someone for any personal injury damages you suffer as a result of their "harmful or offensive contact with you body".  Specifically, PA defines a battery as: "an act done with the intent to cause a harmful or offensive contact with the body of another that directly [or indirectly] results in the harmful or offensive contact with the body of another." Pa.SSCJI 13.2

If you are kicked, punched, slapped, hit with an object thrown by someone, spit on, stabbed etc., you may be able to institute a lawsuit against the individual that hurt you.  You also likely have a claim for civil assault as well.  Read more about claims for assault here.  Additionally, you may be able to have the assailant charged with criminal assault and battery.

The problem with singular claims of civil assault and battery is that it will likely be difficult to collect any damages for personal injury you may be awarded.  The reason is that assault and battery are considered intentional torts.  Most intentional torts (assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud, etc.) are excluded by insurance policies.  If something is excluded per the terms of an applicable insurance policy then the defendant is personally responsible for paying for the damages.  Thus, you can get a judgment against the person that harmed you but then be left trying to figure out how to get the money from them.  As I have discussed in previous posts here and here, though it can be done, it is often very difficult to extract money from non-compliant defendants.  Because of this, claims of intentional torts are often filed in conjunction with claims of negligence.  The reason is that, generally speaking, in order to establish a claim for negligence you simply have to show that the defendant owed you some duty, that they deviated in upholding that duty and, as a result, you were caused damages.  Arguably, if you can establish a claim for an intentional tort, you stand a good chance of establishing a claim of negligence.  Claims of negligence are typically covered by insurance policies.  This removes the hurdle of recovery for the money that you may be owed.

Amazingly, there is very little information online about civil battery.  The likely reason is that many attorneys are not interested in handling cases that do not trigger insurance coverage.  I hope this post helps shed some light on this less talked about claim. Share this post :
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