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Civil Battery and Self-Defense in North Carolina | Assault Personal Injury Attorney


There are many types of “personal injury” cases and nearly all involve negligent, as opposed to intentional, conduct.  The main exception is a civil battery claim.  To prove a personal injury battery claim under North Carolina law, a plaintiff must establish that: (1) defendant intentionally caused a bodily contact with plaintiff; (2) the bodily contact caused plaintiff physical pain or injury; and (3) plaintiff did not consent to the bodily contact.  If a plaintiff is successful on his or her claim, the compensatory damages recoverable in an assault and battery lawsuit include, but are not limited to, compensation for (a) medical and pharmaceutical expenses; (b) lost wages; and (c) physical and emotional pain and suffering.  The plaintiff may also be entitled to recover punitive damages.  These are damages a jury can award against a defendant who has engaged in willful and wanton conduct solely to punish him or her.  If you have been the victim of an assault and battery in North Carolina, contact the Raleigh law firm of Maginnis Law at 919.480.8526.  Our attorneys can help you through the process of recovering financial compensation to pay for your losses.

Many assault and battery cases are straight forward.  For example, if you are hit by a total stranger without any interaction with him or her, and there are multiple witnesses, your case should be easy to prove.  In other cases, though, the defendant will plead some “affirmative defense” and allege that he or she was excused for making the bodily contact.  Among the most common affirmative defenses are self-defense and defense of family.  The burden of proof for a self-defense claim is on the defendant.  That is, he must convince the jury by the greater weight of the evidence that he was acting in self-defense.

To establish a self-defense claim, the defendant must show that he (1) reasonably believed it was necessary to use force to protect himself from imminent bodily injury or death; (2) used no more force against the plaintiff than was reasonably necessary under the circumstances to protect himself from bodily injury or death; and (3) was not the aggressor.  The elements are nearly identical with a claim of defense of family.  The only important distinction is that neither the family member nor the defendant can be the aggressor.  If the family member had initiated a fight, the defendant cannot step in to strike the plaintiff and claim defense of family.

Assault and battery claims can be simpler than other claims in that it is often a relatively straight forward matter of who hit whom and why.  The problem is that in many cases, there is no available insurance coverage and you may be forced to deal with an individual defendant who may or may not have assets.  The good news is that because intentional conduct was involved, if you obtain a judgment, it should not be dischargeable through bankruptcy.

If you have sustained serious personal injuries due to a physical assault in North Carolina, contact the law firm of Maginnis Law in Raleigh at 919.480.8526.  You may also send the details of your case using our contact page.  Our Raleigh law firm offers free consultations and handles assault cases on a contingency basis, meaning that you pay no attorneys’ fees unless and until we obtain a verdict or settlement in your case.  The firm regularly represents clients throughout eastern North Carolina, including Raleigh, Cary, Apex, Chapel Hill, Durham, Greenville, Fayetteville, and Southern Pines.

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