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What to do when assaulted or attacked by someone

What to do when assaulted or attacked by someone

An assault is an intentional and unlawful “touching” by the individual committing the assault against the victim. The intentional and unlawful touching can be anything from just touching, sexual or otherwise, all the way to deadly force resulting in injuries or death. The person committing the assault has both criminal and civil liability for the intentional and unlawful act. The criminal case is investigated by the police and prosecuted by the government according to criminal laws. The victim also has a civil case and can sue the person who assaulted them under civil law for compensation for injuries, medical expenses, lost earnings and other losses.

Many assaults occur within the family but also occur in the workplace, during the commission of crime or randomly. Most often the individuals involved know each other. Under criminal law the person committing the assault can be prosecuted and the seriousness of the criminal charges will depend upon both the degree of the harm intended and the seriousness of the resulting injuries to the victim. The prosecutor must prove crimes of assault “beyond a reasonable doubt” and if convicted the person committing the assault will be sent to jail, fined or be required to make restitution to the victim of the assault. In a civil case brought by the victim of an assault against the person committing the assault, the victim must prove the case to “a preponderance of the evidence” as well as the amount of the “damages”. “Damages” include the injury, the amount of pain and suffering and emotional distress experienced, lost income and other out of pocket expenses.

The person committing the assault will be liable to the victim for these “damages”. In some instances an insurance company for the person committing the assault has to pay the “damages” but often insurance policies exclude assaults and other intentional acts. It is important to consult with an experienced injury attorney to determine whether insurance may be required to pay and this often depends upon the laws in the state where the assault occurred as well as the language of the insurance policy involved. The person committing the assault usually cannot discharge a money judgment against them in bankruptcy. In many states the statute of limitations for criminally prosecuting an assault or bringing a civil action is shorter than other legal claims and it is important to determine this by consulting with an experienced injury attorney. 


Do

Do remove yourself from the situation

If the person committing the assault is a family member, co-worker or known to the victim, the victim should avoid any further contact with them either physically or verbally. Assaults usually involve anger and emotion and can continue to escalate, becoming more serious and dangerous. Also, the person committing the assault may be able to claim that the situation involved “mutual combat” or that the victim of the assault willingly participated in the altercation.

Do call the police and make a report

Cooperate with the police throughout their investigation and with the prosecutor during the criminal case. It is important for evidence to be collected as soon as possible after the assault because witnesses must be identified and their statements taken before their memories fade. Likewise, contact an experienced injury attorney promptly in order to secure the evidence necessary for a civil case for monetary compensation. 

Do get the medical attention you need

Assaults often involve both physical and emotional injuries so be certain to consider both medical treatment and psychological treatment. Many times the victim’s psychological injuries persist longer than their physical injuries and are more difficult to deal with and resolve. 

Do take photos and videos of the injuries

Photographs and videos are often the best evidence as to the severity of an assault and bruises, abrasions and swelling soon resolve. Medical records often do not convey the nature and extent of these types of injuries. Continue to take photos and videos as the injuries resolve and be sure to have them dated. Have a newspaper showing a date in the photos or videos and then no one will be able to dispute the date when the photos or videos were taken. 

Do call an injury attorney

The prosecuting attorney will handle the criminal charges arising out of an assault. The victim of the assault needs an experienced civil injury attorney to provide advice and handle the victim of an assaults claim for compensation or “damages”. It is important to contact an experienced an experienced civil injury attorney as soon as possible after the assault in order to begin collecting and preserving evidence and avoiding mistakes which will affect the civil case. 


Don't

Do not continue any contact with the person committing the assault

If they are a family member or coworker stay away from them and consider getting a legal order of protection or no contact order prohibiting them from contacting the victim. The prosecuting attorney or an experienced civil injury attorney can help with that.

Do not talk about a civil claim or lawsuit until the criminal charges are resolved

Otherwise, the person committing the assault will be able to claim that the victim of the assault is making claims in order to obtain money. Talk to an experienced civil injury attorney about this and take the attorney's advice.

Do not talk to friends or family members of the person committing the assault

Any information that is provided will get back to the person committing the assault and will either aggravate the situation or be misconstrued and used as a defense to the assault.

Do not attempt to get revenge

Cooperate with the criminal justice system, and bring a claim or lawsuit in the civil justice system.

Do not get talked into dropping charges

Oftentimes, the person who committed the assault will influence the victim of the assault into dropping the criminal charges or civil claim for damages. This happens often in assaults in a family or workplace. The assaultive behavior will likely continue and increase in the future.


Summary
Jumping cartoon

An assault is an intentional and unlawful “touching” causing injury to another person and can be anything from just touching to serious injury or death. The police will investigate the assault and the prosecutor may bring criminal charges against the person committing the assault. The victim of the assault also can bring a civil claim or lawsuit against the person committing the assault for their personal injuries and losses. It is important for the victim of the assault to cooperate with the police and prosecutor and to contact an experienced injury attorney as soon as possible.


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Scott BowenPersonal Injury Attorney

Scott Bowen, is a Seattle-area personal injury attorney, serving Washington State residents. He has a strong personal commitment to representing injured people and considers it to be the most important and satisfying work that an attorney can do...

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