Can a Victim of Assault Sue for Damages?
In 2020, there were 88,030 incidents of aggravated assault in Texas, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). Naturally, if you were the victim of a crime like this, you’ll want to see the perpetrator tried in a criminal court and see consequences such as fines or jail time. However, as the victim, you may be curious about your own trauma and injuries related to the incident and wonder, “Can I sue someone who assaulted me?”
For help answering this question, reach out to my firm, Jose Orihuela, Attorney at Law. With locations in both Webster and Houston, Texas, I’m able to represent clients throughout the area, including South Houston and Pasadena.
According to Texas law, an assault occurs when someone “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes or threatens to cause bodily injury to another,” or when they cause physical contact with another person in a way that’s construed to be offensive or provocative. This crime can reach the level of “aggravated” assault if it results in serious bodily injury or was done while wielding a deadly weapon such as a gun, knife, or car.
What to Do After an Assault
Regardless of whether you’re pursuing a personal injury lawsuit, it’s essential to understand what to do after an assault to ensure you’re taken care of:
Get Medical Attention: The single most important thing to do after an incident like this is to seek medical attention. You should do this even if you believe your injuries are minor or if you’re worried about how you’ll pay for it. If you do file a lawsuit, you’ll need to provide proof of your injuries, and delaying this could negatively affect your claim.
Gather Evidence: As soon as you can, start gathering and organizing evidence related to the assault. This could include photos or video of the scene of the crime or documentation of your injuries. It could also include clothing that you wore or property that was damaged as a result of the assault.
Talk to Witnesses: Obtain contact information from anyone at the scene of the crime who may have witnessed any portion of it.
Call the Police: It’s almost always a good idea to contact the police in an incident like this, especially if you sustained physical injuries. You should also request a copy of the police report which can aid in your claim.
Talk to an Attorney: You should reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney. Many people are unaware of what to do when things like this happen, and your lawyer can explain your options so you can make an informed decision about your next steps.
There are three categories of possible damages in a civil case like this: nominal, compensatory, and punitive damages:
Nominal damages are typically quite small and are usually reserved for cases where the victim hasn’t sustained any physical injuries or harm.
Compensatory damages are awarded to cover the expenses that the victim incurred due to the assault, and these are considered either “general” or “special.” General damages cover things like emotional distress or pain and suffering, while special damages can cover things like medical expenses or lost wages if you couldn’t work because of your injuries.
Punitive damages are the least common and are only awarded in cases where you can prove intentional or malicious harm.
In all cases, the burden of proof lies with the person filing the claim. Importantly, proving your civil case is a completely separate process from any criminal charges. The statute of limitations for personal injury cases like this is typically two years from the date of the assault.
Take Legal Action Today
If you’re in the Houston, Webster, or Pasadena areas of Texas, and want to learn more about bringing forward a civil suit after an assault, contact me, Jose Orihuela, Attorney at Law.