Understanding the Difference Between Criminal and Civil Assault & Battery in Georgia

One may be familiar with the term “assault and battery” after reading the term in criminal news articles or hearing it used in a television show.  People often don’t realize that assault and battery are also intentional torts under Georgia law.  Personal injury cases are usually associated with negligent conduct, like a store failing to clean up a spill and causing a slip-and-fall.  However, civil suit can also be pursued for when someone purposefully sought to threaten or make offensive or harmful contact with another.

aid boxAssault happens when someone intentionally acts in a way that causes the other person, or group of people, reasonable apprehension of imminent and harmful contact.  For example, if someone swings around a knife near someone else to cause fear, and the fear of being hurt is reasonable, the person with the knife could be liable for damages.  No contact is necessary for the tort of assault in a civil action.  Battery occurs when there is purposeful contact, and the contact was made with the intent to harm or offend.  Both intentional torts similar to their criminal counterparts, with the distinction between the statutes lying in the available remedy and the parties involved.

In Clayton County, Georgia, a trial began this week of a man accused of exposing women to the HIV virus after he knew he was infected with HIV.  Under Georgia law, a person who knows they have been infected with HIV is under a statutory duty to inform their partner that they are infected with HIV prior to sexual intercourse.  Failure to do so means one is guilty of a felony and can face up to ten years in prison.  HIV and Hepatitis are specifically covered under Georgia law, but other sexually transmitted diseases may be prosecuted under criminal assault or battery statutes.

Infection from serious diseases like HIV or hepatitis can result in years worth of doctor visits and  medical treatments.  Regardless of whether criminal prosecution occurs, civil action may be available for those who have been infected by someone who knew they were diagnosed with HIV or hepatitis or other serious diseases.  For example, if someone threatened to spit or bleed on others who know or believe that the person is infected with HIV or another disease that is equally serious in nature and scope, then that person may be liable for damages under the intentional tort of assault.  Actual contact in the same scenario would mean the at-fault party may also be liable for damages under the intentional tort of battery.  Damages are designed to make the injured party whole, and usually include costs like lost wages and medical expenses.

The Georgia assault and battery injury attorneys at the Angell Law Firm, LLC understand the financial pressures that you or your family member faces as you try to recover from an injury.  If you have been the victim of an assault or battery and would like to pursue civil action so that you can be reimbursed for all the expenses you are burdened with, contact one of our experienced lawyers today.  We understand that your situation is unique and challenging, and we are here to litigate your case to the fullest so that you can recover the maximum amount of compensation.  Call today for a free consultation at (770) 217-4954.

More Blog Posts:

Taking a Look at Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage in Georgia in the New Year, Atlanta Accident Attorney Blog, January 8th, 2014

Truck Driving Rules of the Road, Atlanta Accident Attorney Blog, November 6th, 2013