A victim of a deliberate assault has the same rights as a victim of negligence: to recover compensation from the wrongdoer for economic and noneconomic losses, including medical bills, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. However, there are important differences to be aware of.
First, a person who commits assault faces criminal and civil liability. The good news is, if the accused is convicted of assault in criminal court, liability for the injuries in civil court is virtually assured. And, even if the accused is not convicted, there is still a chance he can be found liable for the injuries. This is because the criminal court applies a higher burden of proof (beyond a reasonable doubt) than the civil court (by a preponderance of the evidence).
The bad news is, a person cannot insure himself against the deliberate acts he commits, so the assaulter would have to pay for civil damages out of his personal assets. Of course, this would only happen after the assaulter had paid for legal defense in two trials, which could seriously deplete his resources. Unless the assaulter has significant assets, such as a home, savings, or a business, the victim may not be able to collect on the civil court judgment.
However, the fact that the assault occurred at work provides some relief. If the victim was engaged in job-related activity, the injury from the assault could qualify for workers’ compensation. The victim would be covered for 100 percent of all reasonable and necessary medical treatment, plus wage replacement. There may also be circumstances that allow for a lawsuit for negligence in hiring or retaining an employee who committed assault. In most cases, workers’ compensation law shields employers from liability for negligence, but if there was evidence of extreme recklessness creating the situation that resulted in the assault, the assault victim might be able to sue the employer. This would allow recovery for all losses, including pain and suffering.
Finally, if the assaulter was a subcontractor and did not have a coworker relationship with the victim, the victim might be able to file a third-party lawsuit against the assaulter’s employer. Again, the victim could recover all losses, including pain and suffering.
Victims of assault deserve the chance to be made whole. Seigel Law is ready to assist in Bergen County or anywhere in New Jersey. Contact us online or call 201.444.4000 today for a free case evaluation.