Civil law is a body of rules that defines and protects the private rights of citizens, offers legal remedies that may be sought in a dispute, and covers areas of law such as contracts, torts, property, and family law.
Ordinarily, if someone is injured because of the intentional or negligent act of another, they can recover monetary damages to reimburse them for medical bills and injuries suffered. However, this is not always true when the person was injured while attacking someone else or attempting to steal from that person.
What is civil law?
The body of laws that govern ordinary private matters or civil rights, separate from laws presiding over criminal, military, or political matters. It provides redress for wrongs by compensating the person or entity that has been wronged rather than punishing the wrongdoer. The governing principle is “Stare Decisis,” which means that the outcome of a lawsuit depends on the outcomes of previous similar cases.
The primary purpose of criminal law is to prevent undesirable behavior and punish those who commit an act deemed undesirable by society. In civil law, it is the injured person who brings the lawsuit. By contrast, in criminal law, it is the government that files charges. The injured person may file a complaint, but it is the government that decides whether criminal charges should be filed. A violation of criminal law is considered a crime against the state or federal government and is a violation of public law rather than private law.
Another key difference between civil and criminal law is the standards of proof required to reach a verdict. A plaintiff need only prove his civil law case by a “preponderance of the evidence.” This standard requires that the plaintiff convince the court that, based on the evidence presented at trial, it is “more likely than not” that the plaintiff’s allegation is true.
In contrast, the standard of proof is higher in criminal law proceedings. The state must prove their case “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The reason for this higher standard is because a person’s freedom is at stake, and the fundamental belief that convicting an innocent person is worse than allowing a guilty person to go free.
No person has a lawful right to lay hostile and menacing hands on another. However, the law does not require anyone to submit meekly to the unlawful infliction of violence upon themselves. A person may resist the use or threatened use of force upon himself or herself. A person may meet force with force but may use only such force as reasonably appears to him or her as necessary under all the circumstances for self-defense. One is not ordinarily expected to exercise the same refined degree of judgment at times of great stress or excitement that he or she would under calmer circumstances.
Civil law permits a person to sue another person for personal damages causing by that person's action or inaction. This includes a suit for a violent attack, called an "intentional tort" under civil law. These intentional torts are almost identical to an illegal criminal attack and many use the same names, such as assault and battery, which means the same in both criminal and civil law.
Torts and crimes are similar except in their punishments. In criminal court, the accused is subject to fine and imprisonment, but as explained above, unless the attacker injured you, prosecution of the accused is unlikely. On the other hand, a civil court may order the attacker to pay your medical expenses and pay for personal damages, even if you had no medical expenses.
Civil law is concerned with protecting your physical integrity and well as your physical safety. Therefore, even if the assailant caused you no physical harm, you may still collect damages for the invasion of your physical integrity. No physical injury is required for legal action under civil law.
Depending on the circumstances and the sympathies of the jury, the damages could be a substantial amount of money. At the very least, there may be a nominal award. Since you have such a superior remedy in the civil courts, prosecutors are reluctant to prosecute in simple assault cases with minor injuries. Of course, all this is contingent on the assailant's ability to pay. If the assailant has no money or objects of value, your chances of collecting an award are slim and it would be difficult to find an attorney to handle your case.