Can a Crime Victim File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Many victims of crime don’t know that they have the right to pursue a personal injury claim in civil court. Whether criminal prosecution was successful, or if there was simply no prosecution at all, crime victims have a right to file a lawsuit against offenders and any other responsible parties in civil court.
Civil Justice Versus Criminal Justice: How a Personal Injury Lawsuit Can Help
Unlike criminal court, the civil justice system doesn’t seek to prove the defendant’s guilt; rather they aim to assign liability for certain damages. Another difference is that in civil proceedings, offenders are not jailed. When defendants are found liable, the court will order them to pay a monetary sum to the victim, instead. And while no amount of money can fully compensate for the trauma and loss caused by victimization, it’s a valuable resource to help a crime victim rebuild their life.
Sometimes it is possible to hold a third party responsible for injuries sustained. The potential exposure to civil liability is a powerful incentive for third parties like landlords, business owners, municipalities, and others in order for them to take needed measures to prevent future crimes.
Preparing for Civil Proceedings
Unlike a criminal prosecution, civil plaintiffs must hire their own attorney; they are not represented by their district attorney’s office. Before a crime victim consults with a personal injury attorney, they should plan to answer very detailed questions about their case. This is necessary to conduct a proper evaluation. Some questions civil attorneys will ask are:
Questions About the Crime
- Date, time, and circumstance of the crime
- Location or addresses, as well as a description of the area
- Identity of witnesses
- Existence of any physical evidence
- Any police reports, criminal court records, and depositions
- The outcome of any criminal proceedings
Questions About the Suspect
- The nature of any relationship with the defendant
- Perpetrator’s name and possible aliases, physical address, DOB, and social security number —if known
- Physical description or the defendant, including any identifying characteristics
- Demographic information such as employment, family, assets including insurance policies
Questions About Injury and Damages
The client should bring any supporting medical documents that prove the extent of anticipated treatment
- Evidence of property damage and repair costs
- Amount of lost wages
Choosing an Attorney
Today, it is not uncommon to see personal injury attorneys representing survivors of crime in their civil suits. Personal injury trial lawyers are skilled negotiators who understand the ins and outs of the civil court system, have established connections, and are comfortable arguing liability. The rapport between client and attorney is important, as is the ability to trust. A crime survivor needs to feel secure and less vulnerable in order to be more forthcoming with important, but often painful, details of the crime.
Are you a crime survivor looking for a way to get a piece of your life back? The team at Hardesty, Tyde, Green, Ashton & Clifton, P.A. is here to help you recover. Contact us today for a free consultation regarding your legal needs.
What constitutes a personal injury?
The most common personal injury is an auto accident, but the broad definition encompasses any situation where a person suffers harm due to the negligence of another person or entity. Early identification of a personal injury is important to the legal process. Many serious injuries occur each year involving:
– Auto accidents
– Premises liability accidents such as injuries caused by a slip and fall
– Medical malpractice/nursing home injuries
– Wrongful death
– Work-related accidents
– Animal attacks
– Faulty or malfunctioning products (product liability)