If someone assaults you without justification in SC, you might be able to recover damages in an assault and battery lawsuit against the person or their employer.
Assault and battery is a criminal offense, but, whether the person was arrested or not, assault and battery is also a civil cause of action in SC, and you may be able to recover your medical bills, compensation for pain and suffering, and even punitive damages against the person who assaulted you.
Below, we will discuss assault and battery lawsuits in SC including:
- The elements for a civil claim of assault and battery,
- Who may be liable in an assault and battery lawsuit,
- When you can get punitive damages for assault and battery in SC, and
- Common types of assault and battery lawsuits including lawsuits against bouncers or security guards.
What are the Elements for a Civil Claim of Assault and Battery in SC?
Whereas most civil claims are based on negligence, assault and battery is intentional conduct.
If someone intentionally threatens to harm you – for example, drawing back their fist, saying “I’m going to kill you,” or pointing a gun at you, they have committed assault. When someone intentionally physically touches you – for example, punching you, shoving you, or shooting you, then they have also committed battery.
Although you must prove intentional conduct to win on an assault and battery claim, there may be other causes of action that are based on negligence that are included in your assault and battery lawsuit, like:
- Negligent hiring claims against the bad actor’s employer, or
- Failure to protect claims against an establishment or business that allowed the assault to happen.
Who do You Sue?
You may have an assault and battery lawsuit against:
- The individual or individuals who assaulted you,
- That person’s employer if they were acting in the course and scope of their employment (a bouncer or security guard, for example), or
- The person’s employer, or
- A business that failed to protect you and negligently allowed the assault to happen.
Although the individual may not have insurance or the resources to fully compensate you for your injuries, their employer or other businesses may have insurance or assets, and, if the employer or other businesses negligently contributed to the assault, you may have options to recover full and fair compensation.
Can You Get Punitive Damages in an Assault and Battery Lawsuit?
When your injuries were caused by another person’s intentional conduct, you are entitled to punitive damages, and assault and battery is, by definition, intentional conduct.
You may also be entitled to punitive damages against the individual’s employer or other businesses who allowed the assault to happen if their conduct was willful, wanton, or reckless – if their conduct was grossly negligent, punitive damages may be awarded to 1) punish the defendant, 2) prevent future similar conduct, and 3) compensate you for the violation of your rights.
Punitive damages in SC are capped at the greater of three times the amount of the compensatory damages or $500,000, but 1) if the assault and battery could have resulted in a felony conviction, the cap is increased to the greater of four times compensatory damages or $2,000,000, and 2) if the assault and battery did result in a felony conviction, there is no cap on punitive damages.
Assault and Battery Lawsuits Against Bouncers or Security Guards
One of the more common types of assault and battery lawsuits is when bouncers or security guards assault a patron without justification or use excessive force when they are ejecting a person from an establishment.
Whether or not the individual bouncer who committed the assault has the resources to pay your damages, their employer is also liable for their employee’s conduct when it occurs within the course and scope of their employment – a legal theory called “respondeat superior.”
Even if the individual cannot pay your settlement or verdict, their employer – a bar, restaurant, or other business – may have an insurance policy or corporate assets that can be used to pay your damages.
Other Assault and Battery Lawsuits
Any time someone intentionally physically assaults a person without justification, they are liable for the damage they caused. Some examples of assault and battery lawsuits in SC could include:
- A bouncer uses excessive force while ejecting a person from a business’ premises,
- A daycare worker assaults a child in their care,
- An assault happens in a business’ elevator or unlighted parking garage,
- A Walmart loss prevention employee assaults a customer who is wrongfully accused of shoplifting,
- A security guard attempts to detain a customer without justification, or
- A customer is assaulted in their motel room because the locks were broken allowing the assailant to enter.
If you are not sure whether your attacker has the resources to pay a verdict, whether a business may be liable for failing to protect you, or whether there is insurance coverage to pay your settlement or verdict, talk to a Myrtle Beach personal injury lawyer immediately to get a case evaluation and professional opinion.
If you are an assault victim, and you aren’t sure if you have a valid assault and battery lawsuit, contact our office for a free evaluation of your case.