Can a victim of assault file a civil lawsuit?
Victims of assault may file a claim against their perpetrators in civil court and, in some matters, other parties may as well.
Many victims have successfully sued in cases concerning assault or abuse. Most of these cases stem from a criminal prosecution. A perpetrator may face criminal charges in court that can lead to fines, jail time, probation and other sanctions. They might also find themselves in civil court, where they may be held accountable for harm and emotional damage that was caused by their actions.
Types of Damages and Claims
Compensation in a civil suit regarding abuse will depend on the specific facts of the case and the legal theory on which the matter is argued. While associated with a criminal matter, civil courts consider assault a personal injury lawsuit. Thus, it should be managed by a lawyer familiar with representing clients in civil matters that deal with personal injury and assault. An experienced attorney will understand that compensation in a civil lawsuit concerning assault or abuse will depend on the degree of physical and emotional harm suffered by the victim and the physical and emotional harm that they will continue to suffer from in the future.
Because of the sensitive nature of these matters, juries may award high damages. This leaves the perpetrator – even if they are sitting in jail after a conviction – liable to pay a judgement. Unfortunately, if the perpetrator is unable to cover the debt, collection may not be possible. Liability insurance policies commonly do not cover damage, injury or suffering from intentional acts, leaving only personal assets as the main source of compensation.
Managing the Case
If the perpetrator is found guilty in a criminal court, the victim may have a greater chance for compensation in their civil suit. The civil lawsuit may require the victim to present evidence used in the criminal suit.
What If There is No Criminal Case?
If there was no criminal matter or if the perpetrator was not convicted of a crime, the victim can still file a claim against the perpetrator. In fact, with the standard of proof being lower in civil matters, the personal injury attorney will only need to prove it is more likely than not that the perpetrator is responsible for the pain, damage and suffering inflicted on the victim.
To make sure an assault related civil lawsuit is managed properly, you may need an experienced DC personal injury lawyer in your corner. Contact a personal injury lawyer to set up a free consultation to review the details of your case and determine your next step forward.
Thanks to our friends and co-contributors from Cohen & Cohen, P.C. for their added insight into the possible civil implications of a criminal act.