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Negligent Security Seminar | March 2015

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Why Should Victims of Violent Crime Consider Pursuing a Civil Lawsuit?

In the U.S., criminal and civil courts operate separately, with different goals and procedural rules governing how cases are handled. While the criminal justice system seeks to hold the perpetrators of crimes accountable to the state, it typically does little to compensate victims for the physical, emotional, psychological, or financial damages they have suffered as a result of the crime. Therefore, some victims of violent crimes choose to pursue civil lawsuits against defendants who may be held liable for their harms.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a violent crime, you may be wondering if a civil lawsuit is worth pursuing. Here are a few of the top reasons to consider it:

Compensation

While some criminal courts order the perpetrator to reimburse the victim for certain expenses incurred as a result of the crime, these amounts often remain uncollected. Without enforcement by the court, the victim is left in a worse financial position than they were before the crime.

A civil lawsuit, however, may offer a solution, enabling victims to seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and emotional damages. Defendants to the case may include not only the perpetrator of the crime, but also third parties whose negligence allowed the crime to occur. For example, if the violent crime took place at a commercial property that lacked appropriate security measures, the victim may be able to pursue a negligent security claim against the owner of the property.

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Control over the case

In criminal cases, the state directs the process, with the victim mainly serving as a witness for the prosecution. The victim does not have any say in the prosecutor’s decisions or the defendant’s sentencing. Filing a civil lawsuit hands control back to the victim, enabling them to initiate the proceedings, be informed of all relevant details, and make important decisions regarding the case, such as those related to accepting a settlement. Even if the criminal case did not result in a conviction, a civil suit will allow the victim a chance to seek justice.

Deterrence of future crime

When a civil lawsuit is filed against a third party who should have taken reasonable steps to prevent the crime, the case may have positive implications for crime deterrence and public safety. For example, if the criminal perpetrator was an employee of a business that should have conducted appropriate background checks, a civil suit may motivate the business and others in their industry to improve the employee screening process, thereby reducing the likelihood that future customers will be victimized.

For victims of violent crime, filing a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator and other defendants can bring an invaluable sense of justice, as well as financial compensation for harms caused by the criminal act. However, navigating the legal system can be confusing, so it’s crucial to work with an attorney who is experienced in representing crime victims. At Leighton Law, our team brings extensive expertise in negligent security, personal injury, and other areas relevant to the victims of robberies, sexual assaults, and other violent acts. Call us today at 888.988.1774 to discuss your options with our team.

 

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