Battery and “Eggshell Skull” Rule

The battery is a tort committed intentionally and, in most cases, negligently, resulting in an undeniable offensive or dangerous contact with an individual or an object connected to them. Compared to assault, where the fear of a future reference might underpin a civil claim, the battery is concerned with actual contact. The contact may be initiated by an individual, known as a tortfeasor, but an object can be used in the process. For instance, if a person intentionally strikes another with a bottle, it is considered a battery. Consequently, there are three distinct elements of the tort that have to be present for it to be classified as battery.

Contact is a significant determinant of battery that is required as evidence in a court of law. It only takes a substantial level of intention or carelessness for contact to lead to the battery. However, it is necessary to note that any effort to attack others without physical contact can be termed a tort of assault. Nonetheless, body-to-body contact is not the only requirement for a battery because touching another person’s property immediately connected to them, such as their wallet, is also categorized as a battery. Moreover, an action can also be classified as battery even when there is a delay in contact between the tortfeasor and the plaintiff. A perfect example is when an individual puts poison in a glass of milk with the intent of harming the person who will drink it.

The character of intent is another vital element that constitutes the tort. It is important to distinguish the different roles it plays in criminal battery and civil battery. Additionally, it is essential to note that intent applies differently to various judicial systems. For instance, in Australia, carelessness is enough to initiate a pursuit. However, in the United States, any plan to participate in an act that leads to an offensive or harmful contact is a tort of battery. Aside from the requirement of communication and the character of intent, a defendant does not need to be aware of his or her actions to participate in a tort of battery. For instance, if a surgeon involves a relative who has no medical expertise in treatment procedures, the doctor has committed battery against the patient. The patient has only authorized contact from the surgeon, which excludes anybody else regardless of their contribution to the procedure’s success. Moreover, the battery can also happen without the victim’s knowledge and in the absence of the defendant.

The issue of contact and intent has the capacity to create misunderstandings in dealing with tort cases. Consequently, the eggshell rule was established to help solve instances in which a fragile victim is subjected to another injury. According to the law, a tortfeasor is responsible for their acts of negligence that might harm a victim even if the plaintiff already has a pre-existing vulnerability. A perfect example is the Vosburg v. Putney case, where the defendant kicked the victim in a classroom causing physical injury. Unknown to the tortfeasor, the defendant had an underlying microbial infection that was triggered by the contact, which led to permanent injury to the victim’s leg. Although the defendant claimed his actions were unintentional and the degree of injury was unpredictable, his actions were found to be unlawful by the Wisconsin Supreme court, and the plaintiff was compensated.

Battery and assault are widely recognized as international torts, and both tort and criminal laws are often applied to restraining people from physically harming others. Assault is not only an action that can cause immediate physical injury but one that also suggests imminent harm. Similarly, the tort of false imprisonment includes restraining an individual not only in prison but also in a room or car when they have not committed any offense. It is a tort to deny someone the personal freedom to walk and engage in activities as they please. False imprisonment is also linked to malicious prosecution, where an individual is charged for a crime they never participated in.

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