Both criminal, civil charges appropriate in some assaults

Published 11:00 pm Saturday, June 6, 2009

Dear Lawyer Mark: I recently was involved in a fight when I took my son back to his mom’s for visitation.

When I pulled up at the house, her boyfriend came out and punched me through the window of my truck.

I’m so mad about this but I don’t know what to do. He busted my lip and broke my front tooth out and now I have dentist bills that I can’t afford. What I’m wondering is, can I sue the boyfriend for hitting me? I’m also thinking about filing criminal charges.

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Dear Angrier: Yes, there is a civil action for assault. An assault is defined as a “harmful or offensive touching of another person.”

A civil action for assault may be pursued when somebody willfully attacks you, as your son’s mother’s boyfriend did to you. In other words, you may file a lawsuit against him in order to recover damages to compensate you for things such as dental care required as a result of the assault. You may also recover other types of damages, such as pain and suffering, lost wages, and possibly punitive damages.

In addition to awarding you damages, a jury may award you reasonable attorney’s fees.

As in all legal matters, time is extremely important. As a general rule, you only have one year from the time of the assault to file a civil action against the perpetrator. That means that if you do not file a lawsuit within a year, you will be forever prevented from filing a lawsuit based on the incident.

In addition, you may file criminal charges if you have been the victim of an assault. Again, it is also advisable to avoid delay in reporting criminal acts.. There is nothing that prevents you from pursuing both a criminal case and a civil action against the person who harmed you.

There is one final matter that you should consider in determining whether to file a lawsuit-whether there is any possibility of collecting on a judgment. If the defendant has no assets or income, you might decide that it is not worth the costs of a lawsuit.

Due to the fact that all legal questions depend on the circumstances of the case, I would suggest that you speak with a lawyer about the specific facts and surrounding circumstances of the assault.

— THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: “Violence does even justice unjustly.” — Thomas Carlyle

It’s The Law is written by attorney Mark K. McCown in response to legal questions received by him. If you have a question, please forward it to Mark K. McCown, 311 Park Avenue, Ironton, Ohio 45638, or e-mail it to him at The right to condense and/or edit all questions is reserved.