Man can file criminal charges, sue for violent attack
Dear Lawyer Mark: Recently, I took my son home 30 minutes late to his mom’s house from visitation. When I pulled into the driveway, my ex-wife’s new boyfriend came out and sucker punched me several times through the window of my car.
I now have a busted lip and a couple of chipped front teeth. I cannot afford the dentist bills that I needed to get my teeth fixed.
I am angry and I don’t know what to do. I am thinking about filing criminal charges against the boyfriend for hitting me. Can I also sue him? — FURIOUS
Dear Furious: You can definitely file a complaint for criminal charges if you have been the victim of an assault by notifying your local law enforcement agency. You need to make sure you report those as soon as possible, so that they can investigate and determine how to charge them. If your ex-wife’s boyfriend is found guilty, the court can order him to pay restitution to reimburse you the costs for treatment.
Yes, you can also sue someone in civil court for assault. An assault for these purposes is defined as a “harmful or offensive touching of another person.”
When someone attacks you like you described, it is called an “intentional tort.”
Simply put, you can file a lawsuit against him in order to recover money as restitution to compensate you for things such as dental care, like in the criminal case. In your lawsuit, you can also recover other types of damages such as pain and suffering, lost wages, and possibly punitive damages, which are given to financially punish the defendant. In addition to awarding you damages, a jury could award you attorney’s fees.
In all legal matters, time is extremely important. As a general rule, you only have one to file a lawsuit for intentional torts. That means you have one year from the time of the assault to file the complaint in court against the person that assaulted you.
If you do not file it within the year time frame, you won’t be able to file it at all. You are also allowed to pursue both a criminal case and civil case against the person who harmed you at the same time; you don’t have to wait until the criminal case is over.
Finally, when determining whether or not to file a civil lawsuit, you should always consider whether there is any possibility of actually collecting a judgment if you win. If the defendant has no assets, income or insurance, you might decide that the cost of the lawsuit is not worth the effort. And cost to go after him.
All legal questions depend on the circumstances of the individual case, so you should speak with your family lawyer about the specific facts and surrounding circumstances of the assault.
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: “Non-violence doesn’t always work—but violence never does” — Isaac Asimov
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 LawyerMark@yahoo.com. The right to condense and/or edit all questions is reserved.