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Applying Personal Injury Laws To Domestic Violence

A judge in Columbus, Ohio recently ruled that a battered spouse could sue her ex-husband in civil court for the pain and suffering she endured as a result of a beating by her husband while they were married. The battered spouse, in this case, ended up in the hospital with fractured bones, and her husband was subsequently convicted on a domestic battery charge. The decision by the judge to allow the woman to sue her former husband for civil damages is surprising because in most cases, cases of domestic violence are handled through domestic relations court. However, in this case, the wife was able to convince the court that her husband should be held liable in civil for battery.

Married spouses’ ability to sue each other

In Ohio, spouses have been allowed to bring lawsuits against each other for various actions since the Ohio Supreme Court abolished the doctrine of spousal immunity. Under this doctrine, married spouses could not bring lawsuits against each other while they were still living as a couple. This was based on old laws that thought of a married couple as one entity represented by the husband. However, this doctrine is not currently in effect.

What claims can a battered spouse use to sue?

There are multiple torts that can form the basis of a personal injury lawsuit following domestic violence. In addition to battery and assault, a battered spouse may sue for the intentional infliction of emotional distress. For claims involving the intentional infliction of emotional distress, there is often a requirement of accompanying physical harm or a showing that the conduct of the person being sued was extremely outrageous. In some cases, if the battered spouse, unfortunately, dies as a result of injuries stemming from the domestic abuse, the battered spouse’s estate may be able to sue the abuser for wrongful death.

A criminal prosecution and conviction of a person for battery or domestic violence does not mean that the victim cannot sue in civil court. Because the prosecution is required to offer a higher degree of evidence in order to get a conviction, a conviction for a crime based on the same facts as a civil lawsuit can often help the civil lawsuit by serving as convincing evidence that a defendant is liable.

There are several different avenues that a domestic violence victim can seek justice and a sense of restitution for the harm they suffer at the hands of their abuser. Allowing a spouse or a former spouse to sue for civil damages outside of any remedies provided under criminal law opens up one more avenue.

Contact a Columbus Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been injured as a result of another person’s intentional or negligent actions, you need an experienced personal injury attorney to handle your claim to ensure you get compensated for your injuries. Contact Columbus personal injury lawyer Ed Schottenstein of the Schottenstein Law Offices for a free and confidential consultation today at (614) 467-8474.