Civil Lawsuits for Crime Victims
Being a victim of crime can be one of the most traumatic experiences of a person’s life, and can have shattering – if not fatal – consequences for the life of the victim as well as the victim’s family. The perpetrator of a crime, even if known, apprehended and brought to trial, may not always be found guilty of the crime, for any number of reasons, but that perpetrator may nevertheless be required to compensate the victim and/or his or her family for the emotional and physical consequences of the crime. The New Jersey civil law attorneys at Smith & Doran are here to hold those criminals – whether they are convicted or not – and those parties that may have facilitated their crimes accountable to you for the injuries they have inflicted upon you and your family.
The attorneys at Smith & Doran may be able to obtain compensatory damages for your injuries and in some cases punitive damages for a wide variety of criminal acts committed against you or a member of your family, including the following:
- Murder or attempted murder
- Rape and other sexual assaults
Conviction is not necessary for civil liability
It is important to remember that even if the perpetrator of the crime was not convicted, or even if the person was never even arrested or brought to trial on criminal charges in the first place, that party may still be found liable in a civil suit brought by the victim. In a criminal case, the court is deciding whether to punish that party on a finding of guilt. This requires a showing of proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the criminal act, and requires every member of the jury to reach this conclusion, which is a very high standard. Furthermore, the strength of the prosecution depends upon the ability and the determination of both the prosecuting attorney in making the case and the police in providing admissible, persuasive evidence, and the victim or his or her lawyers may not play a part in that prosecution.
In a civil case, however, the court is not determining whether a defendant is guilty but rather whether he or she should be liable for a victim’s losses. The standard of proof in a civil case is much lower than in a criminal case. Instead of proving the defendant committed a crime beyond a reasonable doubt, a plaintiff need only show that the defendant is liable by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning that there is a more than 50% likelihood that the defendant is liable. Furthermore, rather than depending on overburdened prosecutors to bring a case, you as the plaintiff will work closely with your own personal attorney to make sure your best case is put forward in court.
Third parties may also be liable for criminal acts
Other parties beyond the actual perpetrator of the crime may also be liable to you for the perpetrator’s actions. For example, if an employee of a company or governmental entity (e.g. police department, school, etc.) committed a crime against you, the company or governmental entity may be liable to you for your injuries as well. Furthermore, the property owner of a location where you were victimized may also be liable for failing to prevent the crime. For instance, a grocery store may be liable for crimes committed in its parking lot, or a bar owner may be liable for assaults committed inside the bar or for other crimes committed by a patron after leaving the bar.
If you or a loved one have been a victim of crime, we are here for you
At Smith & Doran, we have provided compassionate counsel and aggressive representation for victims of crime and their families in civil lawsuits since 1996. To schedule a free consultation to discuss your needs, contact us online or call our office at 973-292-0016. Weekend and evening appointments are available, and an attorney will be happy to come to your home if necessary. All civil lawsuits for crime victims are taken on contingency, meaning you don’t owe a fee unless and until we recover for you.
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