Representing Crime Victims in Personal Injury Cases

Most of our clients are innocent victims of negligent acts. A person is sitting still at a stop sign and a driver negligently fails to stop in time rear-ending them and causing serious injuries. Another driver fails to yield right-of-way and crashes into the side of their vehicle. In both cases, a negligent act caused the injury to the innocent victim. In other cases, however, intentional torts are involved. A step-father molests a child. A man rapes a woman. A man kills someone else. In all such tragedies, there may be civil remedies available to redress the tragedy, particularly for the victims and/or their surviving relatives.
If a drunk driver runs a stop sign, he may be negligent in doing so, but also he is engaged in criminal acts, thereby committing vehicular homicide. The lawsuit alleges both civil and criminal liability in such a circumstance. If a step-father rapes a child and the step-father has money, the child’s representatives can sue the step-father for damages. If a rape occurs, the victim can sue the perpetrator for damages. If a hotel employee secures a pass key and rapes a guest tenant, not only can the victim sue the perpetrator, the victim may also be able to sue the negligent landlord and/or hotelier that negligently allowed access to the pass key.
Victims of crime should consider whether they have tort remedies available to redress the injustice done to them. There may be Dramshop liability against the business establishment that served the drunk driver. The criminal perpetrator may be wealthy and may have assets that can satisfy a civil judgment. A business may have negligently hired a person with a criminal record such that they may be liable for negligent hiring and retention of the employee who thereafter commits a criminal act.
Victims of negligence have civil remedies but so do victims of crime. The criminal justice system should try to obtain restitution for innocent victims of crime, but in many cases, it will be necessary that the victim secure the services of a private attorney to seek legal redress if a restitution order is not enforced. Whether the case be one for wrongful death or for the infliction of emotional distress or personal injury, civil lawsuits can help to obtain a measure of restitution for victims of crime just as such lawsuits can help to obtain a measure of justice for innocent victims of negligence.

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