Neighbor disputes in Fort Bend County are not uncommon, and in extreme cases, these disputes can turn physical with an assault and battery. The first option most people think of after being physically attacked by a neighbor is pursuing criminal charges. Many people do not realize that they may also be able to sue their neighbor in civil court. A criminal conviction can bring justice and punish the neighbor with prison time or fines, but it will not compensate you for medical bills or emotional pain like a civil lawsuit can.
If you are a victim of your neighbor’s aggression, you should reach out to an experienced Fort Bend County personal injury attorney.
Can I Sue My Neighbor for Assault and Battery in Texas?
Most personal injury claims in Texas are based on the theory of negligence—where the injury was caused by a mistake or accident. But you can also file a personal injury claim when the injury was caused by an intentional wrongful act. Civil assault and battery are claims that fall under this category.
Assault and battery claims are often made together, but they are actually two separate legal claims.
• Assault. Assault is a purposeful act by one person that creates a fear of imminent harmful or offensive contact in another. It does not always involve physical contact. For example, if your neighbor picked up a pile of rocks and threw them at you, but the rocks did not hit you, it is an assault.
• Battery. The battery is the act of making contact with another individual in a harmful or offensive manner. For example, if your neighbor punches you in the face, it is a battery.
What is the Difference Between Criminal and Civil Assault and Battery Cases in Texas?
There are three main differences between criminal and civil assault and battery cases in Texas: 1) who brings the charges, 2) the burden of proof, 3) the penalty.
• Who Brings the Charges. In a criminal case, the state is the party bringing charges against the defendant. Although the victim is not pressing charges, they can play a role in the prosecution by filing a police report, testifying, or requesting that charges are dropped. In contrast, the victim is the individual bringing the lawsuit in a civil case.
• The Burden of Proof. In a criminal case, the state must prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil case, the burden of proof is not as high. The plaintiff only needs to prove that the defendant is more likely than not responsible for their damages.
• The Penalty. In a criminal case, a guilty defendant will face jail time, fines, and community service. Whereas, in a civil case, a guilty defendant is responsible for compensating the victim and punitive damages.
There does not need to be a criminal arrest or conviction for you to bring a civil assault and battery lawsuit against your neighbor in Fort Bend County. A neighbor’s assault on you can cause you to need medical treatment and may cause continued emotional pain.
What Types of Compensation is Available for Civil Assault and Battery Victims in Texas?
There are three categories of damages available to civil assault and battery victims in Texas: 1) compensatory damages, 2) nominal damages, and 3) punitive damages.
1. Compensatory Damages. Compensatory damages are intended to compensate the injured plaintiff for their injuries. It includes damages for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and property damages, among others.
2. Nominal damages. Nominal damages acknowledge that your rights have been violated. They are awarded when there has been an assault but no actual harm to the plaintiff.
3. Punitive damages. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar wrongful acts in the future.
The damages you are entitled to will depend on the severity of your injuries and the unique facts of your case.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit Against My Neighbor for Assault and Battery?
You have two years to file a civil assault and battery lawsuit in Texas. This deadline is called the statute of limitations. If the statute of limitations has passed, you will be barred from filing a claim, regardless of how strong your case is.
Your Sugar Land Personal Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one were injured in a fight with a neighbor, you should reach out to a qualified Sugar Land attorney as soon as possible. Adam Capetillo is a Fort Bend County native who will evaluate your case and provide the best possible representation. As a skilled personal injury lawyer in Sugar Land, Adam Capetillo can effectively guide you through the entire process from start to finish. Call Capetillo Law Firm today for a free consultation.