Arizona personal injury attorney Mark Breyer answers your legal questions. If you have a question you would like answered, you can fill out a free case consultation form here.
Question: I was pushed to the ground during a fight between my boyfriend and his ex-wife’s crazy new boyfriend. I just tried to separate the fight, and the “new boyfriend” threw me to the ground which caused some brusing and other minor injuries. Can I bring a personal injury case for assault?
Answer: Thanks for contacting us. I am sorry to hear about what happened. You are raising an excellent question, and one which depends very much on the precise facts of the case and upon the potential defendant/assailant. In this case, I do not think there is a case. However, we have successfully pursued many cases involving assault and been able to get compensation for our client.
Unfortunately, in this particular case I do not think there is a case worth pursuing. While in theory a case exists, the time, effort, energy, and costs associated with pursuing the case outweigh the likely result, in my opinion.
There are two issues here. One is civil, the other is criminal. The criminal end is an issue for police and prosecutors, in terms of holding the assailant responsible for what occurred. Whether they would be willing or able to pursue this is something only they would know. While the prosecutors can move forward without a willing witness (such as they often do in domestic violence cases) they are probably less likely to do so, here. Again, this is something to address with the police.
From my end, as a personal injury lawyer in Arizona, there is probably liability here, but not a good likelihood of recovery against the assailant. If we brought a civil case against the assailant based upon these facts – and assuming our version was proven true – we would be able to prove both assault and batter (these are criminal and civil causes of action) as well as possibly a negligence claim against the assailant. We could prove your injuries, and we could seek damages.
The problem in pursuing the case is twofold: first, the damages would be relatively small. Juries award damages based upon the extent of the injury. Assuming you heal in an expected amount of time, the jury is not likely to award much money. However, you will have to spend a substantial amount of time and money to get the verdict in your favor. It is not usually advisable to spend a lot of time and money when the outcome is likely to be only a small amount of time and money.
Also, the assailant may not have the money to be able to pay this off. His insurance, if he has any, will likely try to avoid payment based upon likely provisions in the insurance policy such as an “intentional acts” exclusion and a “criminal act” exclusion. The insurance company for the assailant would have a good chance of avoiding having to pay, which would mean having to try to collect money directly from the assailant.
However, you made the right decision to contact our office. If you ever need information on potentially pursuing someone who purposely on negligently caused someone you know or love injury during a fight or similar situation, please contact me. Every one of these cases varies greatly depending upon the exact facts, and this case could have a different outcome if just one or two of the facts were different.