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What damages can I collect in a civil lawsuit for domestic abuse?
A domestic abuse situation can give rise to a number of different kinds of legal proceedings. If criminal charges are filed against the perpetrator, then a successful prosecution in criminal court can result in a conviction and criminal sanctions like jail time, fines, probation, and community service. Coupled with the criminal case (or independent from it), a victim of domestic abuse may be able to obtain a restraining order, which places court-enforced restrictions on the alleged abuser’s ability to come into contact with the victim.
Most people don’t typically associate domestic abuse with civil remedies, but people who have been injured or otherwise harmed by domestic violence have the right to file a lawsuit against the abuser and get compensation (“civil damages” in legalese) for all losses stemming from the abuse.
The specific kinds of damages that are in play in a civil lawsuit over domestic abuse -- and the amount of compensation that an abuse victim might receive -- depends on the specifics of the case. But in general, any damages would include payment of past and future medical treatment, lost income due to time missed at work and any effect on earning capacity, emotional distress triggered by the abuse, and general “pain and suffering” associated with the abuse and its lasting impact.
Since there is no specific civil action called “domestic abuse,” you’ll need to choose another legal theory under which to hold the perpetrator liable -- which probably means a personal injury lawsuit for Assault and Battery, or Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress.
by: David Goguen, J.D.
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