Getting Financial Compensation After an Assault Caused by Negligent Security
You’ve probably heard the phrase “assault and battery” so many times in your life, you might think those two words always go hand in hand.
But assault and battery are two different things.
Even more confusingly, assault and battery are criminal offenses and civil offenses.
If someone commits an assault, he or she might be charged with a crime and also sued for damages by the victim at the same time. But the criminal and civil cases will always proceed separately from one another.
In this article, we’re going to look at a very specific question: when can the victim of an assault or battery in Florida file a civil lawsuit?
And in cases where the assault or battery happens on commercial property (a hotel, for example, or a dance club or bar), we’ll look at a property owner’s liability for assault and battery caused by negligent security.
The Difference Between Assault and Battery Under Florida Civil Law
We need to begin by distinguishing the terms “assault” and “battery” as they are defined under Florida law.
An assault is an intentional and unlawful threat to physically harm another person. The mere threat alone constitutes assault, even if the person never follows through on the threat — provided that he or she had “an apparent ability to do so.”
In other words, the victim must have reasonably believed that he or she was in imminent danger of violence or bodily harm. (The Florida Statutes refer to this as “a well-founded fear.”) The threat may be communicated by words or actions.
A battery occurs when someone actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the victim’s will.
In the classic example, if someone throws a punch at you but misses, he or she has committed assault but not battery. Likewise, if they say, “I’m going to punch you” (and it’s apparent that this is a threat they can make good on), that threat constitutes assault but not battery.
The moment their fist touches you, however, the defendant has now committed both assault and battery — assuming they intended to hit you. (Note: if the punch is intended as a “fake-out” and the person doesn’t mean to hit you, it isn’t battery. Battery requires intentional physical contact.)
Note: when a deadly weapon is involved, we refer to it as aggravated assault or aggravated battery.
If You Sue for Assault and Battery in Florida, How Does That Impact the Criminal Case?
Personal injury cases are governed by civil law, not criminal law. Even if the perpetrator in your case is being charged with the crime of assault or battery arising out of the same circumstances, the criminal matter has no impact on your civil rights or your claim for financial compensation (and vice versa).
In fact, even if you win your civil claim (or reach a favorable settlement), that doesn’t mean the defendant will be convicted in a criminal trial. Likewise, if the defendant is convicted, that doesn’t automatically mean you will win your civil lawsuit.
Indeed, as we will see in the next section, your assault and battery lawsuit might even be brought against someone other than the perpetrator of your assault.
Negligent Security at Hotels, Bars, Restaurants, Retailers, Theaters, and Other Commercial Establishments
When an assault or battery happens on someone else’s property, particularly commercial property, the victim may be able to bring a claim against not only the perpetrator(s) but also the property owner — if the owner’s negligence was partially responsible for the assault.
As Miami premises liability attorneys, we frequently see this happen in the context of a hotel, shopping mall, or some other establishment that creates an unsafe environment by failing to take property safety measures.
We call this negligent security. Examples of negligent security may include:
- Inadequate lighting
- Defective security systems
- Doors / windows that don’t close property or locks that don’t work
- Negligent hiring, training, or supervision of employees
- Turning a blind eye to criminal activity or other suspicious activity on the premises
- Failure to institute security measures (such as security guards, video surveillance, lighting, etc.) after a recent safety issue or attack
- Failure to take action on a security concern the owner knew about (or should have known about)
- Failure to post signage that might deter crime or, alternatively, warn the public about known dangers
Property owners have a legal duty to maintain safe and secure premises. If they breach that duty, they may be held liable for injuries or losses that occur as a result.
How Much Money Can Victims Get in Assault and Battery Lawsuit Settlements?
As Miami premises liability lawyers, we fight in every case to maximize financial compensation for our clients.
Every case is unique. The amount of money available in a given situation depends on the facts and circumstances, as well as several specific factors — the severity of the injuries, the number of parties involved, the nature of any insurance policies that might cover the damages, and so on.
We have had success in resolving many of our clients’ cases through an out-of-court settlement. This often represents a best-case scenario for our clients because it allows them to get the financial recovery they need while sparing them the headache and expense of a formal trial. That said, we are always willing to take our clients’ claims to court.
It is important to emphasize that no two cases are quite alike, and we cannot promise a particular outcome. That said, we will be happy to discuss your situation more closely (and help you understand what kind of financial recovery you might be entitled to) during a free, no-obligation case review.
You Don’t Pay Unless We Get You Money. Schedule a Free Consultation Today.
To learn more about assault and battery lawsuit settlements in Florida, and to discuss how much your potential claim might be worth, please schedule a free case review with Kaire & Heffernan, LLC as soon as possible.
We will not charge you for our services unless and until we get you money.
Time limits do apply to Florida assault and battery tort claims, as well as to personal injury claims based on negligent security, so please don’t delay.
Schedule a free consultation with the Miami premises liability lawyers at Kaire & Heffernan, LLC today.