Personal Injury & Wrongful Death

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Assault Cases: Helping You Receive Justice

Assault-CasesAssault is a crime that involves intentionally causing or attempting to cause bodily harm to another person. In Florida, an individual who has been the victim of an assault may have grounds to file a claim for damages against the person who committed the assault. In this article, we will discuss the elements of an assault claim in Florida, the types of damages that the plaintiff may recover, and the steps you can take to protect yourself from assault and collect damages. Depending on the circumstances, there may be two types of claims: criminal and civil. The criminal charge against the person who injured you in an assault, the assailant, may be prosecuted by the State of Florida. If the party is found guilty of assault and battery, punishment may be imprisonment, probation, restitution, or other penalties determined by the court. In a civil claim for assault, compensation for the victim’s injuries is the focus, not punishment. As a victim, you may bring a civil lawsuit against the assailant who injured you for damages due to your injuries. If you succeed in your civil case, you may be awarded compensatory damages from the defendant.

Elements of an Assault Claim in Florida

To succeed in an assault claim in Florida, the plaintiff (the person who is the victim of assault) must prove the following elements:
  • The defendant (the person who committed the assault) intentionally or recklessly caused or attempted to cause bodily harm to the plaintiff.
  • The plaintiff suffered damages as a result of the assault.
The first element of an assault claim, intent or recklessness, can be challenging to prove. Intentional conduct means that the defendant intended to cause harm, while reckless behavior means that the defendant knew or should have known that their actions were likely to cause harm. A criminal conviction for assault is admissible as evidence of intent or recklessness in a civil suit, but it is not required.

Types of Damages that Your Attorney May Recover:

If a plaintiff is successful in an assault claim in Florida, they may be entitled to recover damages, including:
  • Compensatory damages: These are damages that compensate the plaintiff for any losses suffered as a result of the assault, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
  • Punitive damages: These are damages to punish the defendant for their wrongful conduct and deter similar behavior in the future. Punitive damages occur when the defendant’s conduct is particularly egregious or reprehensible.
  • Emotional distress damages: These are damages to compensate the plaintiff for any emotional distress from the assault. Emotional distress may include damage awards based on anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
  • Attorneys fees: Plaintiff may also be able to recover attorney fees incurred in pursuing an assault claim against the defendant.

Steps to Protect Yourself from Assault

To protect yourself from assault in Florida and to collect damages for an assault, there are several steps you can take:
  • Be aware of your surroundings: Stay alert and aware of your surroundings, especially when you are in unfamiliar or potentially dangerous areas.
  • Trust your instincts: If something or someone makes you feel uneasy or uncomfortable, trust your instincts and remove yourself from the situation as soon as possible.
  • Learn self-defense: Take a self-defense class to learn how to defend yourself physically, if necessary.
  • Know your rights: Understand your rights under Florida law and the legal options available to you if you are the victim of an assault.
  • Contact an attorney: An attorney experienced in assault cases can advise you on your legal rights and options and help you gather evidence and build a strong case.
  • Preserve evidence: The state has a duty to pre-service evidence collected to prove the charges of assault. Property and evidence custodians are responsible for keeping accurate and complete chain-of-custody records, storing the evidence correctly, and ensuring evidence is not contaminated, damaged, or destroyed. The proper procedure or rules varies based on the type of evidence involved, such as preserving biological samples versus digital evidence.
Florida has a 4-year statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit for assault. Civil injury cases you bring on grounds other than negligence have a 2-year statute of limitations. Speaking with an attorney to understand how long you have to file and guide you in your case is important. For assistance with your case call McKeever & Seidule at (407) 628-4878.