Battery -Up: What is Civil Battery

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 BATTERY -UP:  What is Civil Battery

Civil battery is an intended offensive contact with another person.  Assault and battery are normally used together but actually they are two different civil wrongs.   The best example is when a person punches the other in the nose. 

But, normally, it’s not quite so easy.  In battery, there must be contact with a person, and the contact  must be voluntary.  In addition, the definition of “person” includes his body, what is attached to his body and anything associated with his body.  If John Wayne shoots a horse out of under an charging Apache then he can sue John for battery, assuming he survives a header off a horse in full gallop 

The “intent” refers to either an impending contact or an expectation of contact.  The intent of the defendant is easy to prove since normally the defendant wanted  contact with the plaintiff.   The problem comes when the defendant does not really want to hit the plaintiff but only wants him to think he is going to be hit.   John and Mary have a big fight and Mary throws a hammer at John intending for it to hit several feet above his head but hits him in the eye.  Mary’s defense can be that she did not intend this to happen but this should not hold up in court because John had the expectation or apprehension of being creamed.  

Furthermore, the intent must include some knowledge that there will be consequences to the battery.   John is trying to skip a flat rock across a lake and the rock veers off and hits a fisherman.   John may be careless and reckless but not guilty of battery since he had no certainty the rock was going to skip in that direction.

Lastly, the battery must result in some type of physical damage, illness or pain.  In addition,  the act can be offensive if it causes an affront to a persons dignity.   John falls off a curbing when a passerby stops to help him.  John states he does not need help but the passerby picks him up and carries him to safety.   The Good Samaritan can be found guilty of battery because he caused embarrassment to John. 

Damages can be awarded to the plaintiff for pain and suffering, loss wages and medical costs.   Normally, since the battery was committed because of hatred or malice the plaintiff can be awarded punitive damages.

If the battery is criminal, the plaintiff may be fined or jailed.   It is normally referred to as assault and battery, or aggravated assault.  As previously stated, assault is treated as a separate tort and  will be covered in a subsequent article.

As usual, there is rarely a case of simple battery, you should always check with your attorney. 


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