Victims Of Crime And Personal Injury Claims

Our firm is often contacted by those who have been victimized by a criminal act seeking advice as to whether they have a claim against the perpetrator of the crime. These cases come to us in a variety of different contexts. Sometimes a rape victim is interested in determining whether they have a claim against a hotel that negligently allowed the attack by a former employee or failed to provide adequate security with respect to the security of their room. We have had similar calls from rape victims seeking to file claims against apartment complexes where there were prior rapes (and a failure to notify the tenant/victim of the danger) and/or failure to provide adequate security at the complex. In other contexts, we may be contacted by those who have been victimized by drunk drivers or those who have been victimized by an assault and battery.
All “victim/tort” cases are factually unique, of course, and require an analysis of the facts and circumstances. Sometimes the criminal defendant may be judgment proof and a civil case against the perpetrator may be a complete waste of time from an economic standpoint. However, there sometimes can be third party liability in many of these cases. For example, even if the rapist primarily caused the damage, obviously, the negligent apartment owner and/or hotelier could be liable as well. What complicates these cases is that Georgia law now provides for apportionment of damages between those who may be jointly responsible for inflicting the damages. In a rape case, while it may be argued that the rapist caused virtually all the damages, obviously, the rapist may not have ever had the opportunity or access to the victim without the negligence of the owner/occupier of the property. The apportionment of dangers is now up to the jury depending on the facts of the case.
All victims of crimes obviously endure the trauma of being victimized by the crime. The criminal justice system provides very limited relief for damages in such cases. While there is mandatory restitution for property crimes, many criminal defendants do not have sufficient assets to make full restitution. Accordingly, in any case where a crime victim has the potential for a recovery in a particular case, they should consult with counsel experienced in such matters.

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