Violent confrontations can result in fatal or non-fatal injuries. If you were injured in a violent confrontation, contact a personal injury attorney in Virginia.
Love and tolerance are two principles widely preached globally, but not everyone adheres to them. As a result, violent confrontations still happen, whether or not they are instigated. So, there is usually an aggressor and a victim.
These confrontations result in physical harm to the victim, and they could also cause psychological damage. Physical injuries from violent acts have led many to wonder if they can sue the aggressor for damages.
This article examines whether a person who suffers bodily harm can file a personal injury lawsuit in Virginia. If you or a loved one is a victim of a violent act, our legal team at VACAIL can help you seek civil justice. Contact us immediately.
What Constitutes Violent Confrontation in Virginia?
Confrontation is an element of conflict wherein parties confront one another by directly engaging one another during a dispute. It goes from mere conflict to violent confrontation when it involves physical force.
Virginia law does not outrightly define violent confrontation. However, some acts covered by the Code of Virginia qualify as a violent conflict. We examine some of them below.
Assault and Battery
Battery under Virginia law occurs when a person inflicts bodily injury on another. It could be intentional or malicious wounding. For example, punching someone in the face and breaking their jaw or kicking them in the chest and breaking their ribs.
On the other hand, assault occurs when a person:
- Performs an overt (physical) act intended to cause harm while having the present ability to cause harm; or
- Performs an act intended to place a victim in fear of bodily harm and places the victim in reasonable fear of harm.
So, a person who holds a knife while running towards another and threatening to kill them will face an assault charge. Similarly, if the victim doesn’t see a knife but believes that the object held by the aggressor looks like one, the person would also answer for assault.
What is important is that the victim believes that the harm is imminent, coming immediately instead of later. So, if a person gets threats over the phone, it won’t constitute assault as there is no imminent danger.
Assault and battery can be committed against individuals or protected employees like:
- Emergency medical personnel
- Firefighters, including volunteer firefighters, and
- Law enforcement officers.
Hate crimes are common examples of violent confrontations. Here’s how Virginia law defines a hate crime:
- A criminal act committed against a person or his property with the specific intent of instilling fear or intimidation in the individual against;
- Any illegal act directed against any persons or their property; and
- All other incidents, as determined by law-enforcement authorities, intended to intimidate or harass any individual or group because of race, religion, gender, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnic or national origin or committed for the purpose of restraining that person from exercising his rights under the Constitution or laws of the Commonwealth or the United States.
Violent confrontations do not happen between strangers alone. It occurs between intimate partners and family members. Domestic abuse can be against a spouse, former spouse, parent, children, grandparents, siblings, and in-laws living in the same house.
It could also be against people who have lived together for several years. In the United States, an estimated 10 million people suffer domestic violence yearly. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States.
Victims of domestic abuse can take legal actions against their abusive partners. They can also join domestic violence programs to help them recover from the psychological trauma caused by the abuse.
Most sexual assaults are violent. A sexual abuse crime occurs when a person intentionally touches another’s body parts intimately against the person’s will. A common example is rape. Article 7 of the Code of Virginia Section 18.2-61 defines rape as sexual intercourse against a person’s will. It is accomplished by force or through threat or intimidation.
Does Psychological Abuse Amount to Violent Confrontation?
Unlike physical abuse, psychological abuse is the systematic use of malicious manipulation through non-physical acts against an intimate partner, child, or dependent adult. It is sometimes referred to as psychological violence, even though it lacks physical contact.
Common examples are:
- Isolation from others
- Verbal aggression
- Harassment or stalking
While there is no physical force in this form of abuse, being exposed to it can lead to a violent confrontation over a long period of time. What happens is either the abuser progresses to the state where they hit the victim, or the victim starts lashing out. So, while psychological abuse does not amount to a violent confrontation, it can lead to it.
What Injury Are You Likely to Sustain in a Violent Confrontation?
Violent confrontations could end with a fatal or non-fatal injury. A fatal injury is one where the victim dies, while a non-fatal wound is one where the victim survives. However, survival does not guarantee a return to the pre-incident life.
The victim may lose some bodily functions depending on the wound suffered. Below, we look at some of the injuries you’re likely to sustain in a violent confrontation.
Traumatic Brain Injury
If the aggressor strikes a blow to your head, you may suffer a traumatic brain injury. It could be a:
- Coup-contrecoup brain injury
- Brain contusion
- Diffuse axonal injury
- Second impact syndrome
- Shaking baby syndrome, or
- Penetrating injury.
Traumatic brain injuries have life-long implications and should be treated as soon as possible. Common symptoms are amnesia, inability to speak or understand language, blurry vision, anger, anxiety, raccoon eyes, etc.
Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI)
A spinal cord injury occurs from a break to the spinal cord. It also happens when a nerve connecting the spinal cord to the brain gets severed. It could be complete or partial, depending on the severity of the damage.
While it is possible to recover from a partial spinal cord injury, the reverse is the case for a complete wound. Thus, it is best to get immediate medical care to keep a partial SCI from becoming permanent. Symptoms of an SCI are muscle weakness, coordination problems, sweating, reduced sensation, etc.
A broken bone or fracture is a complete or partial break of the bone. The wound could also be open (if the bone punctures the skin) or closed (if the bone does not penetrate the skin). The most common symptom of this injury is pain or loss of sensation, depending on the severity.
A cut is a skin wound with separation of the connective tissue elements. Unlike abrasions, none of the affected skin peels off. This injury is common in a violent confrontation where the aggressor wields a knife or other sharp objects.
What Should You Do After Being Injured in a Violent Confrontation?
After experiencing a violent confrontation that leaves you injured, you could be in a state of shock. As a result, you may be unsure of what to do. If you find yourself in such a situation, do the following:
Call 911 for Immediate Assistance
This call will accomplish two things. It will alert the nearest law enforcement agency, causing them to dispatch a police officer to the scene. Then, it will get EMS personnel to the scene to treat your wounds. If the injury requires further treatment, the EMS team will transport you to a hospital.
The police will investigate what happened and take the aggressor into custody. Note that the police’s investigation and medical treatment are very important. The investigating authority and medical report are two essential pieces of evidence in a personal injury claim. One shows the conclusion of the investigator’s inquiry, while the other shows your wounds came from the confrontation.
Complete Your Treatment
Once you commence medical treatment, ensure you complete it. Failure to do so could affect your claim, as the defendant can allege that you aggravated the wound. Completing treatment also lets you know the amount spent to get the maximum compensation from the defendant.
Most violent confrontations leave victims with psychological and emotional injuries. It could also cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As a result, you may be unable to enjoy major life activities fully.
This is why it is crucial to get counseling. Do this irrespective of whether you were injured or not. Your therapist will listen to you recount the experience. Then they will help you overcome it and move on.
Contact a Lawyer
Speak with a legal practitioner as soon as you can. It would be best to do so immediately after the incident. The attorney will follow the police investigation to ensure the aggressor is held accountable for their actions. In addition, the lawyer will protect your rights and represent you if you choose to pursue a personal injury claim.
Can You Sue if You Were Injured in a Violent Confrontation in Virginia?
The criminal nature of most violent confrontations often makes people wonder if they can sue for their injuries. Note that a criminal trial does not do away with your legal right to request compensation from the aggressor. You can file a personal injury claim irrespective of whether the attacker was charged with an offense or not.
The rationale behind this is that a civil court does not determine guilt as criminal courts do. The standard of proof in both courts is also different. While criminal cases are beyond a reasonable doubt, civil actions are on a balance of probabilities.
So, suppose the District attorney says there’s inadequate proof for a criminal charge or conviction. The jury in a civil case may say otherwise and find against the defendant. What matters in the preceding is that the plaintiff’s evidence outweighs that of the defendant.
The civil court also considers whether the defendant or a third party is responsible for the plaintiff’s injury. If the defendant is liable, they will compensate the victim for their injuries. Consequently, the plaintiff will get economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages refer to the money spent treating the injuries sustained in the violent confrontation. An excellent example is your medical expenses (medications, surgery, transportation, and rehabilitation bills). It might also extend to the cost of medical equipment if the wound leaves the victim disabled and they need say a wheelchair.
Apart from this, economic damages cover other monetary losses resulting from the confrontation injury. For instance, if you were unable to work for some months, the defendant will cover your lost wages. If you sustained a disability that would keep you from working permanently, the settlement includes loss of earning capacity.
Finally, where the victim dies, economic damages cover their funeral and burial expenses. Here, rather than a personal injury lawsuit, the victim’s legal representatives will file a wrongful death claim.
Non-economic damages refer to non-financial consequences of violent confrontation injuries. It deals more with the psychological and emotional impact. This is why this compensation has no fixed dollar amount. Examples of non-economic damages are emotional distress, mental anguish, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, etc.
Depending on the facts of the case, a judge or jury awards punitive damages against the defendant. This happens where the evidence shows malice or egregious conduct from the defendant. Punitive damages are usually a hefty sum, as the courts award it to discourage similar conduct in the future.
Book a Free Consultation With Us Today!
A violent confrontation is quite traumatic, especially if you suffered severe bodily harm. Thankfully, Virginia law allows victims to seek compensation from their aggressors. This is where our lawyers at VACAIL come in.
Our Virginia personal injury attorneys have years of experience helping victims who were injured in a violent confrontation get justice. We will work to achieve the same results for you. So contact us today to speak with one of our attorneys.