Can I sue someone for hitting me?

Unfortunately in certain situations in life, things can get heated and the end result is physical violence. Sometimes the violence is mutual combat but other times it is just one person that hit another. We often get asked if someone can sue someone else for hitting him or her and the answer is always yes. However, there are technical problems with these types of cases and that will be explained below.

What is assault and battery?

Assault and battery cases are the application of force or apprehension with the intent to cause harm. For an assault the victim just needs to be in fear of harm from the actions and there doesn’t need to be any physical contact and of course for battery there does need to be physical contact. Both of these are considered causes of action in civil law and both can be grounds to sue the other party.

How much money can I get if someone punches me?

This is the issue where a lot of these cases have problems. It is tough to get money for a case like this because it is often tough to prove damages. The common questions to look for whether or not it’s a good case are:

  • Did the person who was hit go to the hospital?
  • What are the medical bills?
  • Did this happen at a place where there could be some type of insurance? For example in a home with homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, or in a car.

If the answers to these are all no, then it is unlikely that you have a strong case for damages. However, if it is just more of an issue on principle, these cases can always be fought in small claims court where the award of damages would be a lot lower.

Is it ever legal to punch someone in the face?

There are times where it is legal to punch someone in the face. The two main examples are in a consensual fight or in sports. There is something in the law called assumption of risk. This is a legal term saying that in some activities there is an assumption that if you participate, you are assuming that there is a certain level of risk.

Ice Hockey is a great example of this. In hockey, players are allowed to fight. It is a part of the game and it is legal. It is one of the only sports we have (besides mixed martial arts) where people are actually allowed to fight. In the game of hockey, it is generally legal to punch someone in the face. However, even in hockey there have been situations that have gone beyond the assumption of risk. Almost 20 years ago, NHL player Marty McSorley hit another player in the head during a game with his stick. The blow knocked the other player unconscious. Initially fans thought this was just “part of the game” but after the police assessed the incident, the police realized that this was beyond the risk that is assumed when playing hockey. In the game of hockey one may expect to be hit or punched but not hit in the side of the head with a stick. The prosecutor brought assault charges against McSorley and he was convicted of assault.

If you get hit or punched by someone, you certainly do have a civil lawsuit that you can file. However depending on whether or not insurance was involved, and what your medical bills are, there may not be a large recovery.