Can I file a personal injury lawsuit after an assault? 23 Answers as of June 11, 2013

I was assaulted with a knife last year and suffered a fracture trapezium, severed nerve, severed artery, and two severed tendons. The offending party was a legal adult, 18, but it occurred on his father's property, so I am pursuing a suit against his insurance company. After he cut me, he called the police and told them it was a suicide attempt. I have gone to the police department several times trying to get a criminal warrant and was not even told that there was a self injury report until about the fifth time going to them. I also cannot get the information needed to file the criminal warrant because he is the one that made the phone call and thus is the only party that the info can be released to. I am positive that the monetary damages will far exceed the amount that the insurance company is required to pay. If the judge decides that I am to be paid more than this, what are my options to receive this if he is unable to pay the extra sum (almost certain that this is the case) or if I send him to prison and does not have wages to garnish? Also his father did not even contact the insurance company until I left a note regarding this incident on his porch and has not once contacted me, so I'm wondering if I can in anyway pursue some sort of negligence case against his father? What are my options as far as pursuing a case against the police department?

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Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC
Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC | Lacy Fields
That should not be the case: usually the people who can get a copy of the police report are 1) the victim, 2) the defendant, 3) the legal guardian of either, and 4) the attorney of either. If you cannot get a copy because the report was sealed due to a minor being involved, then you simply need to hire an attorney to write a letter to the family court judge to unseal the report.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 5/6/2011
Ciccarelli Law Offices
Ciccarelli Law Offices | Lee Ciccarelli
Friend, insurance companies have refined and perfected the game of taking advantage of the unrepresented victim. A billion dollar company can afford to hire representatives superbly trained to manipulate and cajole a victim to take less than a just settlement. Consider speaking to an experienced personal injury lawyer. Our office provides a free initial case evaluation.
Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
Replied: 5/5/2011
O'Connor, Acciani & Levy Co. LPA
O'Connor, Acciani & Levy Co. LPA | Henry D. Acciani
In Ohio and Kentucky you must file a lawsuit for an intentional tort within one year of the attack or you are forever barred from bringing a claim. Also, insurance will not normally cover an intentional tort such as assault. Insurance usually only covers negligence. As for a criminal complaint, if you file a criminal charge against this person, the police have to investigate. You may want to find out if they did an investigation, and what the result of that investigation was. You need to meet with an attorney as soon as possible for you may miss your statute.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 5/5/2011
Patrick M Lamar Attorney
Patrick M Lamar Attorney | Patrick M Lamar
Unfortunately there will be no insurance coverage in all likelihood. The act was intentional and not covered by most homeowner's insurance policies.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 5/3/2011
Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A.
Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A. | Paul L. Whitfield
You are getting civil and criminal scrambled like eggs. You need a lawyer to advise you. Normally you cannot get insurance to cover an assault like this. In the criminal case if he were found guilty the judge might order him to pay your medical bills as a condition of probation. Also might not. Money damages are for civil cases. Insurance usually covers negligence, not deliberate assaults. If you are talking about medicals payments that is different too. Get you a lawyer to advise you.
Answer Applies to: North Carolina
Replied: 5/3/2011
    Michael Anthony Wing, P.C.
    Michael Anthony Wing, P.C. | Michael Anthony Wing
    Your inquiry involves so many facts that you need to consult with an attorney in your area. However, yes, you can file a civil claim for the tort of assault and the cutting is actually a battery for which you may also file a claim. If the 18 year old was a resident of the household, then the coverage likely applies to him as well as the father, so I see no need to try a claim against the father. To recover in excess of the insurance limits, you must first demand to settle for the policy limits or less. If you then try the case to a verdict in excess of the policy limits, you may recover the "excess" from the insurer via the homeowner's assigned claim to you against the insurance company for breach of his insurance agreement due to the insurance company's failure to settle within the contracted limits, which is what the father bought when he paid his premiums. I see no claim against the police in your facts. Be aware of the intentional acts exclusion that will be in the policy and claim a negligent cutting in your complaint. Find a local lawyer to help you. Stay well.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 5/3/2011
    Ferguson & Ferguson
    Ferguson & Ferguson | Randy W. Ferguson
    Yes, if you recover could be another issue.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 5/2/2011
    The Woods Law Firm
    The Woods Law Firm | F.W. Woods Jr.
    Answer Applies to: South Carolina
    Replied: 6/11/2013
    Ramunno & Ramunno, P.A.
    Ramunno & Ramunno, P.A. | Lawrence A. Ramunno
    The police will have immunity so it will be difficult to get around that defense. As to the father of the adult defendant, it will also be difficult, unless he somehow caused your injuries, but it does not appear to bethe case. The defendant would be responsible for the judgment, if any, that you obtain, beyond the policy limits. But it maybe hard to collect, especially, if he is in jail and has no assets. By the way, even the insurance company may denycoverage, depending onhow the incident happened and who and what was covered under the policy. You need to contact an attorney to handle this claim,assoon as possible.
    Answer Applies to: Delaware
    Replied: 5/1/2011
    David F. Stoddard
    David F. Stoddard | David F. Stoddard
    It is highly unlikely that you could pursue a case against the police. Based on a doctrine known as the Public Duty Rule, police have almost absolute discretion in deciding whether to pursue criminal charges. I think it will be difficult to pursue the father for negligence based on the facts you have given me. He is not negligent just because a member of his family attacked someone on his property. You would have to show that he should have known this would happen, that he had some duty to prevent it, and failed to prevent it. You definitely have a case against the perpetrator. Unfortunately, it may be impossible to collect a judgment against him. There is no wage garnishment in South Carolina to collect judgments. Usually, you can collect a judgment only if an individual owns real estate, or has a large sum of money in cash and/or investments. You best chance is if the father's homeowners insurance covers intentional torts committed by household members. It may be worth you while to find an attorney willing to pursue such a claim.

    The police incident report is a public record that should be available to the public. Write a letter stating that you request it pursuant to the SC Freedom of Information Act.
    Answer Applies to: South Carolina
    Replied: 4/29/2011
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    Intentional torts are not covered by insurance. You would need to sue the offender directly. Sounds like a tougher case without a conviction.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 4/29/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    I don't see why you shouldn't be able to make your own complaint to the police. If he is arrested you can work with the victim's advocate and apply for benefits. You can also sue civilly. There should be coverage available. If it is insufficient you can seek recovery from any assets or wages but if there is not enough to cover your damages then you will have a paper judgment. Judgments are good for 20 years so you will have time to collect (unless he can get the judgment discharged in bankruptcy). There is no case against his father. As for the police I doubt it but you can seek advice from a law firm that has sued police departments.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 4/29/2011
    David B. Sacks, P.A.
    David B. Sacks, P.A. | David Sacks
    Common law negligence in most jurisdictions when related to a landowner requires a showing that the landowner knew or had reason to know of a dangerous condition on the property and did not take the necessary and reasonable steps to prevent injury to another. You automatically have a legal claim against the individual who caused the injury, but to have a claim against the landowner, in this case the father, you will have to show that the father knew or had reason to know that his son would inflict injury on another. This is not an automatic case. The insurance only has to cover the amount of the policy limits unless you can show that the insurance company failed to negotiate in good faith to resolve the claim in which case, in most jurisdictions, if you could show bad faith on the part of the insurance company, it would be liable for all damages awarded by a jury.

    For more information, give me a call.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 4/29/2011
    The Farber Law Group
    The Farber Law Group | Herbert G. Farber
    Violent crimes can often lead to a personal injury claim. When a person is attacked or victimized, the victim the may recover compensation for their serious personal injuries by filing a civil lawsuit. Criminal cases require a standard of proof which is beyond a reasonable doubt and civil suits require a lesser standard.

    In Washington state, the law allows for a civil action if there was an infliction of bodily injury and the defendant acted intentionally, recklessly or knowingly. To prove your case, you will need to demonstrate you experienced pain, illness or injury due to the assault.

    We recommend you cease from contacting the person who injured you and arrange a consultation with a qualified Washington personal injury attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 4/29/2011
    Lyle B. Masnikoff and Associates
    Lyle B. Masnikoff and Associates | Lyle B. Masnikoff
    You need to contact personal injury attorney but could be difficult case because of insurance issue and no guarantee to collect from person who stabbed you.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 4/29/2011
    Law Offices of Timothy G. Kearney, LLC
    Law Offices of Timothy G. Kearney, LLC | Timothy G. Kearney
    Depending on the facts and the police reports, you may have several different ways to resolve this matter both against the insurance company and the offending party. As far as the father the facts don't make clear of his involvement other than ownership so that would need to be developed. In any event, there is an awful lot going on in this matter. Anytime you have to deal with insurance companies or police departments it is best to have experienced counsel to assist you. I would recommend you contact an experienced attorney to guide you through your options as well as counsel you as to the possible outcomes. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 4/29/2011
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The simple answer to your question is that you can file a law suit. Against whom is another question. Personal injury attorneys take cases on a contingency. They do not get paid unless they earn something for you. They also have free consultations. Hire one, or at least talk to one.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/29/2011
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C.
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C. | Theodore W. Robinson
    Yes, you can sue for Assault by the knife attack, however, because of the initial report being an attempted suicide, you may have a difficult time proving your case against him because he set you up with that first phone call. Speak to a local civil lawyer who also does criminal law to get the best advice. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 4/29/2011
    Kirshner & Groff
    Kirshner & Groff | Richard M. Kirshner
    Speak to a lawyer. The insurance company will probably not pay for intentional acts. I doubt if the Police are legally liable to you as well.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 4/29/2011
    Law Office of Travis Prestwich, PC
    Law Office of Travis Prestwich, PC | Travis Prestwich
    I am sorry to hear about the injury he sustained, especially under the circumstances, and the difficulties you have had since. Certainly, you have a claim against the person that committed the assault. It is possible you may be able to make a claim against the homeowners insurance if the son resided within the household. However, most insurance policies did not cover for intentional actions. You would need to try and find the way around some of these issues.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 4/29/2011
    Law Office of Curry & Westgate
    Law Office of Curry & Westgate | Patrick Curry
    Hire a personal injury attorney. Forget the criminal aspects as this is left to the District Attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/29/2011
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