Thieves are not known to be kind individuals, and in the course of committing a crime, they may not hesitate to harm their victim. In shoving aside their victim, they may cause them to slip and fall to the ground or onto a hard object. There is a long list of scenarios in which a thief may cause bodily and emotional harm to their victim. Fortunately, victims do have some recourse and may be able to get justice with the help of a personal injury lawyer.
Understanding the Nature of Criminal Charges
It’s an unfortunate fact that the U.S. criminal justice system is overwhelmed. As a result, many crimes go unpunished, and those who might deserve harsher sentencing than they receive oftentimes get a simple slap on the wrist. Where does this leave the victims of these crimes? This depends, but in some instances, if someone harms a victim during the course of committing a crime, then they can be held responsible through the civil court system. This is true whether or not the thief was charged with a criminal offense or whether they were charged but were found innocent or the charge was dropped. This is because the civil court and criminal court systems are separate from one another. As a result, as the victim you have no power over whether or not the thief is charged with the crime of theft, though you can provide information to the prosecutor and testify as a witness if it goes to trial. However, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit against the individual in order to recover your injury-related damages.
Understanding the Difference between an Injury Claim and a Civil Lawsuit
It may not be necessary for you to engage in a civil lawsuit against the thief in order to receive a settlement for your injuries. In addition to victim compensation funds that are available in certain states, should you have reason to believe that the thief has assets, your personal injury lawyer can help you seek a court judgement to recover those assets. A thief usually steals because they are desperate for any amount of money — perhaps for a drug or alcohol problem. However, if they own a vehicle or a house, a civil court judge might rule that the thief must liquidate their assets in order to pay for your medical bills from the injury they caused. Alternately, if the theft occurred in a place of business or on the property of a business and your lawyer can prove that the company was negligent in their security and safety measures, they might be liable for paying for your damages. Each case is different and success in recovering damages hinges on a number of factors. For this reason, it’s wise to seek the informed opinion of an experienced personal injury lawyer to learn if taking legal action is worthwhile.