The Philadelphia Personal Injury Law Blog

SEPTA Bus Attack: Classic Battery Situation

Have you seen the video of the SEPTA bus attack? A woman in a pink shirt gets on the bus, and just when she's about to sit down, she jumps across the aisle to start punching and hitting a man sitting on the other side of the bus, according to NBC10.

About 8 passengers watched without trying to stop the woman (you know to stay away when you see crazy), and the man did nothing to fight back, merely blocking the hits with his arms, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

How many times have you ridden SEPTA and someone does some kind of crazy thing? It probably seems like every other trip. Buses bring everybody together in a cramped space that always leads to some physical contact that you could feel is offensive. But, you do not have a personal injury claim every time someone touches you without permission.

First of all, take a look at the video of this SEPTA attack:

While battery is both a criminal and a civil action, that doesn't mean that if someone is criminally charged that they can't be sued for civil damages too. This is how Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman's families were able to get O.J. Simpson back in court after he had been acquitted of his criminal charges.

For a civil battery claim, someone needs to intentionally touch you in an offensive way that ends up hurting you physically or emotionally. Common examples of battery are being punched or being groped without consent. These requirements for a battery claim are why you can't sue everyone on SEPTA who bumps into you accidentally, even if they did bump into your sensitive parts.

Here, the woman in the pink shirt and white glasses clearly had the intent to hit the man sitting on the other side of the bus. She couldn't even begin to claim self-defense, because the man wasn't even moving and you can't say that someone's glance was threatening. Therefore, the man would have an easy case in civil court to prove that the woman was liable, but his damages would be difficult to quantify.

The next time you're involved in a SEPTA bus attack and someone hurts you, realize that it is possible to sue them for damages if you require a doctor's attention. Also, it's good to know that buses have video surveillance, because then you'll have proof of your attacker's actions.

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