Assault is a very serious offense, and the perpetrator or perpetrators face the consequences of their actions in criminal court. As a victim, you may also file a lawsuit in civil court, regardless of what happens with the criminal case.
There are certain factors that a plaintiff must show in order to be successful in a civil claim:
- The attacker’s offensive and/or fear-inducing action was intentional
- The attacker’s intention indeed was to cause the victim to become fearful of immediate danger
- The victim’s resultant fear of immediate danger was justified
A common misconception regarding assault is that there must be some kind of physical damage. In reality, the simple fact is that if the act causes the other person to fear immediate danger, it constitutes assault. If the offense and/or fear-inducing act indeed contain a physical aspect, Illinois labels the act as battery.
Why does this matter? Because in a civil suit, just as in a criminal case, the defense will often attempt to argue that because you do not have any physical injuries, that you have not been assaulted. This argument does not hold water based on the legal definition of assault. We can explain the process if you have questions.
Is sexual assault different from other types of assault in Illinois?
Legally, “sexual assault” is different from other types of assault, but making a civil claim remains the same for both.
What types of damages can you claim for assault in a civil lawsuit?
Civil lawsuits for assault can seek the same types of damages that any other injury cases would, including:
- Medical bills and associated expenses, including costs for surgeries and physical therapy
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering, including mental trauma
- Loss of consortium (for spouses)
- Funeral and burial expenses if the victim dies as a result of his or her injuries
In some cases, the victim of the assault – the plaintiff – could also claim punitive damages.
When should an assault victim file a civil lawsuit?
Generally speaking, it is best to wait until the criminal charges and resulting case have concluded, but it is not required. Furthermore, you should know that a “not guilty” verdict in a criminal trial does not necessarily mean that your civil suit will be unsuccessful. OJ Simpson, for example, was given a “not guilty” verdict in his criminal trial, but found liable for millions of dollars in damages in a wrongful death lawsuit filed in civil court.
Making the decision to file a civil lawsuit for an assault is a deeply personal one. We know that you might be scared to face your attacker, or worry about the publicity of your case if you are filing a claim against a high-profile individual or government employee. At Gainsberg Law, we treat you and your case with dignity and discretion. To learn more about our services, please contact us at 312-313-1621, or fill out our contact form. Our office is located in Chicago, but serves clients throughout Illinois.