The Philadelphia Personal Injury Law Blog

A Car The Weapon In Assault And Battery

Northwest of Philadelphia, in Lower Paxton Township, a woman in a Nissan has a stack of charges against her from criminal to civil. Blinded by road-rage, the woman in the Nissan bumped another car on 83 until they both pulled over. When the Nissan driver was leaving, she "backed into the woman's legs and drove off" (as reported by the Patriot-News).


To begin, there seems to be assault and battery, but could we argue that it happened twice?

The victim suffered from assault and battery when the Nissan driver backed into her legs repeatedly. Assault is the threat of force, so if the Nissan threatened the victim before driving into her legs, then the assault charge would stick. Also, by making contact and striking the victim with the car, the battery charge would stick.

Now, even though the victim "refused medical treatment," battery is battery no matter how light the contact. There has even been a case in which a man was charged for battery because of an unwanted kiss. FindLaw explains that battery is "the intentional touching of, or application of force to, the body of another person, in a harmful or offensive manner, and without consent." 

So even though the action did not result in a severe injury, it was an offensive display of the Nissan driver's power and lack of concern for the law. It seems like the equivalent of a threatening shove... with a car.

For the second "assault and battery," I was referring to the bumps that the Nissan driver was giving the other car on 83. Arguably, it could be battery because it does not need to be body to body contact, just the "application of force to the body." That is why a personal injury attorney can accuse someone of battery even if they use a weapon like a bat or a car. However, this case does not appear to be battery, unless the victim was injured by the bumps, i.e. whiplash.

It seems to be assault since the bumps were made as "an intentional attempt or threat to inflict injury...coupled with an apparent, present ability to cause harm" (FindLaw). So, would the Nissan driver be attempting to threaten or injure the victim as she rammed her with her car? Would a car be able to inflict damage?