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The Intentional Tort of Assault in New York

The intentional tort of assault occurs when one causes another person to be afraid that they will be the victim of harmful or offensive conduct. In New York the courts have recognized this common law protection that protects a person’s right to be free from unwanted touching or the threat of unwanted touching. The tort of Assault provides a remedy from the mental anguish that may be caused when one places another in fear of being subjected to a potential threat to their safety, even if no physical harm is actually caused. In fact, assault requires no physical contact or injusry at all. It all that must be proven is a grave affront or hazard to the person. Although the intentional tort of battery commonly accompanies assault in actions brought against those that cause harms through intentional violent acts this is not always the case.

If you or someone you know has been put in fear for their personal safety due to the physical threats or threatened physical violent acts, call our New York intentional tort lawyers today. Our intentional tort lawyers will aggressively fight to win your case. Call us today for a free consultation.

The elements of assault in New York are:

  • Unwarranted threat of violence against the plaintiff.
  • Made with the intent to provoke observation of the threat.
  • Causes a reasonable observation of immediate danger.
  • The defendant has a present capacity to bring about the violence.

It is important to note that mere words are not sufficient to impose liability for the tort of assault. Simply threatening someone without further actions cannot establish all of the elements of assault and neither can the threat of future violence. Threats made over technology like the phone, social media, the internet, or various apps also do not justify causes of action for assault.

In many tort causes of action elements are evaluated objectively, with reference to what reasonable persons may do. New York distinguishes the tort of assault and generally evaluates the elements from the plaintiff’s viewpoint when the tortfeasor commits the act.

Courts also scrutinize the defendant’s actual ability to commit the act that would potentially cross the threshold into unwanted touching. What one person may believe is just a joking gesture, may seriously arouse fear in another person. The same conduct that two grown men may find humorous, may frighten a vulnerable old person.

Assault requires a particular tortious intent, the intent to bring about the observation of conduct that can arouse the fear of an unwanted touching. Assault can never be brought about with negligence, on the other hand, the defendant does not need malicious or wanton intent to physically hurt the plaintiff either. Despite this, proof of intent to maliciously hurt the plaintiff can support punitive damages and fight some affirmative defenses raised to the tort of assault.

The measure of damages recoverable in a claim for the tort of assault is commensurate with damages for mental trauma, lost employment or lost wages stemming from a diminishment of employment, and medical costs. Malice and cruel intent on the part of the defendant can trigger punitive damages. If a court finds that punitive damages are still not able to make the plaintiff whole the court can further aggravate the damages.

If you or someone you know has been put in fear of their personal safety due to the physical threats or threatened physical violence or has been accused of tortious assault, call our New York intentional tort lawyers today. Our intentional tort lawyers will aggressively fight to obtain the best possible outcome. Call us today for a free consultation.

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