Battery is intentional, harmful contact by one person against another. Common batteries include beating with the hands, tripping, pushing, as well as more serious actions like stabbing, shooting or otherwise maiming a person with a dangerous instrument. Many, if not all, batteries can involve criminal, as well as civil liability.

What are the elements of a battery case?

A plaintiff must show two elements in a battery case:

  • Intentional contact with the plaintiff’s body
  • Injury

Accidental, harmful contact, does not constitute battery. If the contact is accidental, then if there is a claim, it will be a negligence claim.

What if a person intentionally causes harm, but was acting in self-defense?

There are several defenses to allegations of battery, including consent, self-defense or defense of others, protection of property.


Person A punches Person B in the mouth without justification. Person A has committed the tort of battery.

Person A punches Person B in the mouth, but they are in a professional boxing match. Person B has consented to being punched in the mouth; there is no battery.

Person A hits Person B with a pipe without justification. Person B grabs a knife and stabs Person A.Person A has committed the tort of battery. Person B was acting in self-defense and has not committed battery.

You are arrested and it turns out the police acted without probable cause. During the arrest, the police officer was rough with you and broke your arm. The police officer may have committed a battery.

If someone threw something at me and caused injury, is that still a battery?

Yes. The object is an extension of the aggressor in that the aggressor has intentionally caused it to hit you. So, if someone throws a rock at you and hits you, that is a battery.

I am the victim of a battery:

  • Seek medical attention
  • Document your claim
  • Your time to sue is limited; contact an experienced personal injury lawyer

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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