A New York, New YorkPersonal Injury Law FirmThat Will Fight for Your Rights
An assault occurs when someone intentionally injures you without justification – by punching you in the nose, for example, or “siccing” his dog on you. For the purposes of seeking financial compensation, assault claims are based on New York state personal injury law. Compensation can be quite significant, depending on the seriousness of your injuries and the nature of the assault.
Civil Lawsuitvs. Private Settlement
Most civil assault claims are resolved out of court through negotiation. In fact, it is common for the parties to continue negotiating even after a lawsuit is filed – a settlement is possible at any point before a final court judgment is rendered. A court judgment becomes final when the deadline for appeal expires or when an appeal judgment is issued and no further appeals are available.
Examples of Counter-Arguments the Defendant Might Try
If you prove that the defendant assaulted you, the defendant might still offer the following justifications which, if successful, would defeat your claim (so you need to be ready for them!):
- Defense of others; or
- Privilege (a police officer acting reasonably in the scope of duty, for example);
- Consent (an injury resulting from a football game, for example, although exceptions exist even in this case).
Other defenses may be possible as well, depending on the circumstances.
The New York Criminal Justice System
In almost all cases, the conduct that constitutes an assault is also a criminal offense under New York’s assault and battery laws. Crime victims cannot directly initiate a criminal prosecution – they must file a complaint with the prosecutor, and the prosecutor must make the decision. Moreover, a prosecutor can proceed even if the victim does not wish to see the defendant prosecuted (as often occurs in cases of domestic violence).
You can file a civil lawsuit, or negotiate a civil claim, even while criminal proceedings are underway, because the criminal justice system and the civil compensation system are two different systems. You can win your claim even if criminal proceedings are incomplete, and even if the defendant was acquitted in criminal court.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How can I be sure you will you keep my secrets?
Under the doctrine of attorney-client privilege, once an attorney-client relationship between us is established, we are legally bound not to divulge the contents of any conversation you without your explicit permission.
Even if a lawyer divulges confidential client information, it cannot be used against the client. Don’t worry — even a free consultation will establish attorney-client privilege with respect to the content of the consultation. And we would never reveal your secret anyway.
What is the difference between ordinary civil assault and a sexual assault?
An ordinary assault involving physical injury (“civil assault”) and sexual assault are two separate claims under New York law – in fact, the same victim can file both claims over the same incident if the facts justify it. A successful sexual assault claim, unlike a civil assault claim, does not require that the victim suffer a physical injury – it only requires proof of an unconsented to touching of a sexual nature.
In cases of child sexual abuse, even the consent of the victim cannot justify the act, because a minor under the age of consent (16 in New York) is considered incapable of providing meaningful consent to sexual activity. A victim of sexual assault can file a personal injury claim and seek criminal charges, just as a victim of a civil assault can. A parent can file a lawsuit on behalf of a child victim.
What kind of damages might I be entitled to?
Personal injury law is designed to compensate you for all of your losses, regardless of whether these losses are tangible or intangible. Possible bases for damages include:
- medical bills;
- lost earnings;
- emotional distress;
- pain and suffering; and
- any other harm you might have suffered as a result of the incident.
Do insurance policies cover assault?
Not usually, because insurance companies generally refuse to pay out on intentional acts. An insurance policy is more likely to pay out on a claim that the negligence of the insured allowed the assault to happen.
The defendant has no money and is uninsured. Who can I file a claim against?
To actually receive compensation, you must file a claim against a defendant who actually has the money to pay. Your best chance in most cases is to claim against a responsible party whose negligence allowed the perpetrator to commit the assault, such as:
- a shopping centeror property owners, for negligent security that allowed a criminal to gain unauthorized entry to a facility that you trusted would be kept safe (your hotel room, for example); or
- the defendant’s employer, if the defendant was acting within the scope of his employment at the time of the assault (an unjust beating inflicted by a nightclub bouncer, for example).
What are my remedies as a grieving spouse if my husband was killed in an unjustified assault?
We can help you file a wrongful death lawsuit. The lawsuit must be filed in the name of the personal representative of your husband’s probate estate, which might end up being you. Damages for wrongful death can be quite substantial, and as a spouse you should receive a high percentage of the total award (other close family members may also be entitled to compensation as well).
We Know How to Help You Fight Back Against the System
Once an assault occurs, time is of the essence. Missing a deadline could critically damage your case; likewise, it’s not a good idea to wait until the last minute to start preparing for the challenges you are going to face. You need to act now, while the evidence is still fresh.
If you have been assaulted in New York City, contact Edwards Pottinger Law Firm at 800-400-1098, or fill out our online contact page, for a free consultation, where we can discuss your options and provide you with legal advice. We will charge you nothing in legal fees unless we win your case.
DISCLAIMER: In order to comply with attorney advertising laws, none of the foregoing should be interpreted to mean that this firm or any of its attorneys has or have obtained formal legal certification in any particular sub-field field of law.