Assault, Battery, and Personal Injury

When many people hear of assault and battery, they think of a crime wherein one person attacks another. While this simple definition is not wrong, it also is not complete. Assault and battery are indeed both crimes, but they are also possible reasons for a personal injury claim that a victim may pursue against a perpetrator. Both assault and battery are considered torts in Alaska, which is the branch of law that encompasses personal injury.


What is a Tort?

Most people have not heard the word “tort” when used in a legal context. Simply put, a tort is an infringement upon a legally recognized interest. For example, trespass is an infringement upon your right to uninterrupted use of your real property. Both assault and battery are actions that fall within this definition.


What is The Difference Between Assault and Battery?

Assault and battery are two different things but many believe them to be one and the same. Both assault and battery have common law definitions when the words are applied to tortious actions.  Assault is basically defined as putting another in fear of a harmful or unwanted touching whereas battery is defined as an unwanted or harmful touching. Just by looking at the definitions of each, it is simple to understand why the two terms are often confused and used synonymously. It is also important to remember that these are civil law definitions rather than those used under the criminal system. If a person threatens to punch you, balls up his fists, and steps aggressively toward you and those actions make you truly afraid for your well-being, chances are that an assault has taken place. If the person actually punches you, the tort of battery has most likely been committed. Both assault and battery are considered intentional torts, meaning that the offender has to intend their actions; actions that accidentally cause fear of or an actual unwanted or harmful touching are usually not considered to be tortious.


How do You Prove Assault or Battery?

To prove assault, a victim must show that the offender’s actions:

  • Were intentional;
  • Intended to create apprehension or fear of imminent bodily harm and
  • Actually caused fear or apprehension in the victim.

The mere verbal threat of violence or aggressive behavior is usually not enough to allege assault. The actual threat must be accompanied with an action that would make the fear of the victim reasonable. To prove battery, you must show that another’s actions:

  • Were intentional;
  • Resulted in the touching or application of force to another’s body
  • In a harmful or offensive manner
  • Without the consent of the victim


Bumping into someone on the street accidentally or brushing up against someone in a bar does not usually constitute a battery as there is no intent present. Now, were you to brush up against someone and knock them over because you were not paying attention, you might be liable for negligent behavior.

Assault and/or battery are not uncommon. People frequently act out of anger or stupidity (think about a driver speeding up to come close to pedestrians in a crosswalk or hip checking someone aside so they can get on a bus ahead of others) without regard for the consequences of their actions and, as a result, victims suffer injuries. If you are in the Anchorage area and you have been injured by someone else’s actions, you have rights that need to be protected. The attorneys at Power & Power Law have been victim advocates for decades. Give us a call at 907-222-9990 or toll free at 833-669-9990 or click here to set up your free consultation and find out what we can do for you.