Can I Sue Someone for Assault?

The short answer is yes, but should you?

In most personal injury claims such as motor vehicle accidents, dog bites and slip and falls, there is an insurance policy involved. The first question in these common claims is whether the insurance policy provides coverage for the incident. In a car accident, coverage is usually straight forward. If the car was insured and you are not racing or intentionally crashing into someone, you should be covered.

The same goes for slip and falls at a business or residence. If someone is injured on your property due to a hazard on the property, most of the time there will be coverage unless there is a specific exclusion. The same goes for dog bites. Unless the insurance policy has a specific exclusion for dog incidents, there most likely will be coverage. Sometimes insurance companies will add dog exclusions to your policy once there has been an incident involving the dog.

Now, what makes assaults different? Assault requires the element of intent and that sets it apart from negligence. Typically, insurance policies exclude intention acts. This means that if someone were to punch you or assault you, their homeowners’ coverage would not provide any coverage. In most instances, this means no recovery.

The fact of the matter is that most people are judgement proof. You certainly have the right to still sue this person even if there is no insurance. What you will probably be left with is a judgment that you cannot enforce. On top of that, even if you can enforce the judgment via garnishment, that person can file for bankruptcy and have the judgment set aside.

There are instances where it does make sense to make a claim even if there is questionable coverage. Say for instance the assault takes place at a bar. The bar could potentially be responsible for failing to protect you or serving that person too much to drink. Sometimes even if there is no insurance coverage, it also makes sense to make a claim. Think Fred Durst, Dennis Rodman, Bill Cosby, Brittany Spears, or Justin Bieber. These individuals are not judgment proof, have deep pockets and have/had a reputation to uphold.

Finally, even though it may appear that an act was intentional, sometimes coverage can apply because the act was negligent. For instance, kids screwing around at a relay race and someone gets hit in the face with a baton or when a soccer coach juggling a ball around while the team is on break, trips over one of the kids fracturing his leg. These are two incidents of negligent conduct and if the individual has an applicable homeowner’s policy, coverage would be provided.

There are always coverage issues and when dealing with the insurance company or questionable individuals, it is always a good idea to contact a lawyer. Consultations on these types of incidents are free and gives you a peace of mind. If you or someone was injured through no fault of their own, feel free to give me a call at 651-705-9098 or email me at

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