Suffering physical violence at the hands of anyone is never a fun experience. Acts of workplace violence such as assault and battery can leave lasting physical and emotional impacts that can be devastating and tragic. It is critical to speak with an experienced Houston personal injury attorney as soon as possible when you have suffered from a physical attack by a co-worker/To understand your rights as a victim better, we must first turn to what constitutes an assault or battery (hint: they are the same – keep reading) and also understand when an employer may be found to have liability rather than just the co-worker individually.
Assault or Battery?
In Texas, criminal assault and civil assault are the same. If one has been criminally assaulted, the victim may also have grounds for a civil lawsuit against their attacker to recover for their injuries. Further, the question posed about assault and battery is a trick question – there is no criminal or civil battery in Texas. Both assault and battery are combined into a single offense called assault. In Texas, a person commits an assault if the person:
- Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse;
- Intentionally or knowingly threatens another with imminent bodily injury, including the person’s spouse; or,
- Intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive.
This is a fairly broad definition. An assault would be a punch, a slap, or an unwelcome slap on the back. An assault does not even require touching another person (think of spitting or throwing an object). An assault can be aggravated if other facts are present, but civil lawsuits do not distinguish between assault and aggravated assault. The primary distinction between criminal assault and civil assault is that to have grounds to bring a lawsuit, and the victim must sustain an injury – physical, emotional, or mental- to recover damages.
Can I bring a lawsuit against the employer?
A good and experienced Houston personal injury lawyer will understand that this question is a fact-intensive inquiry. Not every situation is the same. It is quite possible to have two identical situations in which each may arrive at a different answer based on one or two different facts that may seem almost negligible.
An employer may be liable for the acts of an employee under the doctrine of respondeat superior, a fancy Latin phrase that means “let the superior make answer.” Or, in plain English, an employer may be held legally responsible for the wrongful acts of an employee or agent if such acts occur within the course and scope of employment or agency. What constitutes course and scope has been a heavily litigated issue and is determined by the courts’ intensive fact-based inquiry. Coming and going from work, using a company vehicle for a personal errand, or being assaulted for personal reasons not related to employment may all be barred to a finding of employer liability. However, in some of these instances, employer liability may still be found. The distinction is based on specific facts.
Can I sue the person that assaulted me?
Of course. But it presents a huge obstacle to receiving compensation. An individual may be held liable in a civil proceeding for the injuries caused by an assault against a co-worker. However, the real question is whether or not a victim may ever actually recover any compensation from the perpetrator. Does the perpetrator have an insurance policy covering intentional acts such as assault? Are the policy limits of the policy enough to cover the injuries caused? Does the perpetrator have sufficient personal assets to cover a money judgment from the Judge or Jury? Employer liability is generally what every personal injury attorney tends to work towards – with some exceptions.
When an employer may not have liability, individuals have resorted to the Criminal Justice system to seek justice and monetary restitution for their injuries. To investigate a person’s potential assets available for any recovery is often an expensive and time-consuming investigation that, more likely than not, has a low probability of a positive outcome. However, it is still important to speak with a Houston injury lawyer quickly to determine such likelihood.
Suppose you or someone you know faces a co-worker or supervisor who assaulted them. They should reach out to an experienced Houston personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Evidence can be lost, stories can change, and witnesses can become harder. The lawyers at Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC, have handled these cases and are available for a free, confidential consultation.
At Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC, our firm focuses its entirety on representing those who have suffered a personal injury and helping our clients through the entire recovery process – physical, emotional, and financial recovery – from their injuries. We allow our clients to tip the balance of justice into their favor through our years of experience and devotion to our clients. Our care and preparation are core principles and keys to our success. The lawyers at Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC, can help you navigate this issue and answer any questions that you may have. If you would like to speak to someone about your particular situation or for a free and confidential consultation, call our office at (713) 366-HURT (4878) today or visit us online www.houinjurylawyers.com.