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Once there is palpable harm (be it physical, emotional, or monetary) all elements of a battery are present, and an aggrieved person may file charges. Of course, in criminal law, the state will file charges for battery, and the victim becomes a witness for the prosecution. In criminal court, the focus is on the guilt or innocence of the defendant and generally, no damages are available to the victim. However, harm may be so severe that he or she may qualify for assistance through a “victims’ compensation fund.”

Conversely, the victim of a battery may file a civil lawsuit stemming from the same incident, in which the defendant is charged with the tort of battery. In such a case, damages are typically compensatory (a monetary award), along with special relief such as injunctive or punitive. Substantial harm is not required, but nonetheless, there must be palpable harm. Compensatory damages may be for either/both economic and non-economic (emotional) harm. In the case of the necklace (above), the plaintiff may ask for monetary damages to cover property (the broken necklace); physical harm to her neck (economic damages for medical bills, if any, and non-economic damages for pain and suffering, if any); and emotional harm caused from the incident (the apprehension of a battery; the embarrassment when it actually occurred, etc.). In the case of transferred intent involving an assault and battery, there will likely be two plaintiffs: the person who was the intended victim of the battery (who sues for assault) and the person who was actually physically harmed (who sues for battery).

In medical malpractice cases involving unauthorized treatments or lack of informed consent (see below), the patient may sue for all costs and treatments/procedures associated with the treatment received. This is true, in many cases, even where the patient ultimately benefited from the unauthorized treatment (although this may be argued as a mitigating factor by defense).

Inside Damages