Philadelphia has one of the highest crime rates in the country. Robberies, shootings and assaults are very common. Victims of crimes in Philadelphia often suffer serious physical injury and long-lasting mental or emotional trauma.
Getting compensation is something many victims are entitled to. However, many times, the focus is on a criminal prosecution. Many victims don’t learn about their legal rights in the civil arena until it’s too late.
In this legal article, our crime victim injury lawyers discuss civil lawsuits after a crime in Philadelphia.
Who Are the Defendants?
The first question to consider is, who are the parties? The criminal perpetrator will almost always be a party, i.e., be named as a defendant in the lawsuit. The basis of liability is committing the crime. For example, in a civil lawsuit for a sexual assault, the perpetrator of the assault will be named as a party. However, are other parties liable? Oftentimes, the answer is yes, and this is true even if other parties are never charged with the crime.
Other Parties – Negligence
Negligence is the bedrock of civil lawsuits for injuries or personal injury lawsuits in Philadelphia, including crime victim injury cases that are filed against non-perpetrator parties. In order to hold another (non-perpetrator party) liable, the victim must be able to show the following:
- The other party owed the victim a duty of care under Pennsylvania law,
- The other party breached that duty of care (i.e., was negligent), and
- The breach/negligence was a direct cause of the incident.
In addition, the victim must be able to prove the extent of the injuries and resulting damages. If the victim in a civil lawsuit alleges severe emotional trauma, they must be able to provide evidence via documents and testimony from others.
It is critical to have a crime victim injury lawsuit evaluated thoroughly and properly. All parties must be identified and named in the civil lawsuit for the same incident. In other words, victims of crime who file civil lawsuits don’t get two bites at the apple by suing one party for the crime and then later suing another party for the same crime. This is the principle of res judicata. It basically means that once a case is decided on the merits, the parties can’t later open the case back up because liability of some other party is discovered.
For example, the victim of a robbery at a hotel sues the perpetrator and wins a monetary judgement. One year later, it’s discovered that the hotel where the robbery occurred had major security breaches that allowed the perpetrator to enter the hotel room. It’s also uncovered that the hotel knew about the security issue, but failed to take appropriate action. The victim in this instance, will be unable to pursue another case against the hotel because the first lawsuit, which was based on the incident, was already decided.
For more information, visit our crime victim injury law library, or call one of our lawyers for a free consultation about a potential civil lawsuit. Our main office is located in Center City, Philadelphia. (866) 641-0806
**This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is crucial to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case. See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.