A stabbing attack occurs when one person pierces another person using a sharp object, such as a knife. This can occur in many different contexts, including a street fight, or during criminal activity such as a robbery or holdup. Stabbings usually happen with a knife, but they can also involve other sharp objects, such as a pipe with a sharp edge, or other similar items. 

Stabbing attacks can sometimes be more serious than other types of attacks, such as those involving slashing or cutting. This is because a stabbing injury can often injure vital organs and other internal body parts, which can lead to very serious injuries and even death.

A person who stabs another may be liable for committing both a battery and an assault against the stabbing victim. The person who commits the stabbing may be liable under both civil and criminal assault and battery laws.

Can I Sue the Person Who Stabbed Me?

A stabbing victim can often bring both legal action in both civil and criminal courts. Civil law and criminal law are two distinct bodies of law, and they are dealt with in two separate court systems. Criminal court requires the state to prosecute the defendant, and prove they committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, without involving the victim as a party in the case.

In civil court, a stabbing victim is allowed to sue the defendant to get compensation for the injury that they caused the victim. The compensation can cover losses like hospital costs, lost wages from missing work, pain and suffering, and other losses.

In both cases, the proof is similar- the stabbing victim generally needs to prove that the defendant caused the stabbing injury, and that they did so intentionally.

What Type of Evidence is Used to Prove a Stabbing Case?

In order to prove an instance of stabbing, the court will require evidence to support the claim. Depending on the specific circumstances, various types of evidence can be submitted to the court to prove the stabbing. These can include:

  • Physical items, including (especially) the knife or instrument used in the attack;
  • Eyewitness testimony;
  • Statements from the accused party, both verbal and written;
  • Police reports;
  • Medical reports and documents;
  • Videos or photograph from the incident;
  • Evidence from the scene of the incidents, such as blood marks;
  • Testimony from an expert witness; and/or
  • Various other forms of evidence

It is generally easier to win a civil lawsuit against the defendant if they are convicted of stabbing the victim in criminal court. Criminal convictions often require a higher level of proof than a civil case. Thus, if they are found guilty in a criminal court, they are likely to be found liable in a civil case.

If the criminal defendant feared a civil suit, then they can plead “no contest” at the criminal trial, also known as “nolo contendere”. A plea of “no contest” means that a civil trial will need to build the case again, as the no contest plea does not go on the record as guilty or not guilty. Therefore, the fact that you faced criminal punishment does not mean that you will also face civil liability.

Does the Defendant Have Any Available Defenses?

Depending on the situation, the defendant may have various legal defenses available to them. In some cases, the defendant can claim:

  • Consent: This refers to the stabbing victim giving permission to be stabbed.
  • Self-Defense: The defendant stabbed the victim to protect themselves or another person.
    The requirements for a successful claim of self-defense varies from state to state, but typically it requires that the defendant be in immediate, serious danger. Many states will also require that the defendant attempted to flee the scene or de-escalate the situation.
  • Intoxication: It can sometimes be a defense if the defendant was intoxicated at the time of the stabbing. The intoxication must be such that it prevented the defendant from having the type of intent required to prove a stabbing assault.
    • The defense is more successful if the person was intoxicated against their own will or without their knowledge. Typically, voluntary intoxication can only be used for specific intent crimes (like the intent to murder one person) but can lessen the severity of a crime like stabbing.
    • However, it is not a complete defense and should not be relied upon for to have no liability.
  • Duress: It can often be a defense if the defendant was under duress at the time of the stabbing, i.e., they were forced to perform the stabbing. An example of this is where the person was held at gunpoint and forced to stab the victim

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Do I Need an Attorney If I Was the Victim of a Stabbing?

Stabbing cases can be complex and may require the help of an attorney, especially if the defendant is also being criminally charged for the stabbing. A personal injury attorney near you can explain your legal rights to sue the defendant. Your attorney can provide guidance and representation for your case.