“Can I sue for assault?” The short answer is yes. The bigger question is, “is it practical?” If you are the victim of a domestic or other assault, contact our office for a free consultation at 312-848-9783.
Is it a criminal or civil claim?
Assault and battery is confusing to many people because it is a criminal claim but also gives rise to a civil tort (or, wrong). As such, an individual who is assaulted can in fact sue for financial compensation in civil court.
According to Illinois law, an assault occurs when a person engages in conduct which places another person in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery. A battery occurs when a person causes bodily harm to another person.
This is not an article on criminal law. But it is relevant to point out that there is a tremendous amount of crime taking place in the state of Illinois and around the country. In 2016, there were an estimated 1,248,185 violent crimes (murder, rape, aggravated assault) in the United States. That was an increase of over 4 % from 2015. In Illinois, there were 55,854 reported violent crimes which included, 1,054 murders, 17,827 robberies and 32,065 aggravated assaults.
However, despite all the awful press, Illinois is not the most violent state in the nation. That honor goes to the state of Alaska. The most peaceful state? Maine. Illinois is ranked the 16th most violent state.
Can I sue for assault?
So how do you recover compensation if you are the victim of an assault? You can sue the perpetrator in civil court. But should you?
Assault and battery are intentional acts. Intentional acts are predominantly excluded from homeowners’ insurance policies. As such, if you sue someone, you more than likely will not be able to recover from his or her homeowners’ insurance. As such, you’re left recovering from the perpetrator directly. Do you see where this is heading?
The vast majority of perpetrators do not have assets such as bank accounts, stocks, and real estate for you to go after. Consequently, you could sue this person, but chances are there’s nothing for you to recover. Attorneys understand this. In most cases, they are not going to file a lawsuit when the chance of recovering is minimal. So, what can you do?
Where to look for compensation
If you are assaulted and the perpetrator is caught and convicted of a crime, it is within the discretion of the judge to award restitution to you for your injuries as part of the criminal sentence. Restitution is just another way of saying compensation. Unfortunately, if the defendant can’t pay it, you’re again left holding the bag.
In that case, you might want to file a claim with the Illinois State’s Attorney’s office under the Crime Victims Compensation Act. Under the Act you can recover for up to over $20,000.00 in damages. There is an application and specific timelines you are required to adhere to, so do not delay.
If you have health insurance, your medical bills should be paid by the health insurance company. However, be aware that this may affect your ability to recover the funds discussed above. And if your health insurance finds out that you recovered compensation, they may want to be reimbursed for the medical bills they paid on your behalf.
Can I sue for assault while I’m at a bar?
There are situations where someone other than the perpetrator is liable for your damages. For example, you might have been injured while at a bar. This would be a claim for “negligence” against the bar. In other words, the court/jury would have to find that the bar actually did something wrong. It could have been that the bar served the assailant way too much alcohol and this caused him to act belligerently (Illinois Dram Shop Act). Or perhaps you allege that the bar had an insufficient amount of security to safely maintain the premises.
Can I sue for assault while I’m at work?
That depends. We don’t do workers’ compensation but we work with a lot of good lawyers who do. Generally speaking, if you get assaulted by a co-employee or by a stranger/patron, you can recover for your injuries under workers’ compensation. However, there are several factors that may alter this outcome and for a larger discussion of this matter, contact us and we can connect you with a qualified workers’ comp attorney.
If you were the victim of an assault, whether it be domestic in nature, as a result of a crime, at a bar or on the job, call out office today for a free consultation at 312-848-9783.