Can my friend sue me for breaking his nose if it was self defense?

My friend wants to sue me for breaking his nose one night when we were sleeping in a hotel room. This occurred after we were sleeping, he kept pushing me off of the bed, I then poked him with a pencil when he proceeded to punch me. I in turn punched him back and broke his nose. Is this grounds to sue me? It has been nearly 3 months since the incident.

Asked on June 12, 2012 under Personal Injury, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If you injure someone intentionally, such as with a punch, they may sue you for medical costs, lost wages, and (for serious injuries) pain and suffering. If you believe it was self-defense, you can raise that as an affirmative defense, and if the court believes it was in fact self-defense, you should not be liable.

Based on what you write, I do not think a court would consider this self-defense: it sounds as if there was a confrontation which you could be considered to have instigated, by jabbing him with a pencil. Also, self defense is not retaliastion--it is defense against an imminent or ongoing attack. If he punched you but that was that, you are not necessarily entitled to punch him back.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.