Crime Victim Injury Law – Criminal Versus Civil Cases
Victims of crime have legal rights in both the criminal and civil courts. Many victims of crime in Pennsylvania and New Jersey are surprised to learn that they often have valid civil lawsuits in addition to, or on top of any criminal case. A victim of a robbery or assault can proceed with a criminal case AND a civil crime victim lawsuit for injuries and pain and suffering.
Filing a Civil Lawsuit for a Crime in Pennsylvania or New Jersey? Timing of a Criminal Prosecution and a Civil Lawsuit
Victims of crime who want to explore their legal rights in Philadelphia’s civil courts are often confused about the interplay between the civil case/lawsuit and the criminal prosecution. They are completely different and independent of each other. The judge in one case isn’t going to make a decision based on what’s happened in the other. If one case fails, the other can still proceed and be successful. Quite literally, one has no bearing on the other.
For instance, the victim of a random sexual assault at an apartment complex in Philadelphia is unfortunately unable to identify her attacker, and so the criminal case ultimately fails. However, there may be a valid civil lawsuit against the property owner where the assault occurred. The landlord might have been aware of the risk of sexual assault, based on prior reports. This may subject the landlord to liability. So, the victim may proceed against the landlord in a civil lawsuit, even though the criminal case failed. The one has no bearing on the other.
The Timing of the Criminal Case & Civil Lawsuit
However, the criminal case is important and its outcome can make a difference in the civil case. Below, our crime victim injury lawyers discuss the timing of the criminal case and a crime victim injury lawsuit.
At the outset, it’s important to note that the timing of criminal and civil cases often overlap. Shortly after a crime occurs, a criminal prosecution often begins, although this is not always the case. In some instances, a criminal prosecution may be delayed by months or even years. Oftentimes, in child molestation cases, victims may not report the abuse until many years later. This naturally delays any criminal prosecution until the victim comes forward and reports the abuse to local authorities.
With respect to the timing of the civil lawsuit, the victim may simultaneously proceed with a civil lawsuit, or the victim may wait until the criminal case has concluded. There are different reasons for filing a civil lawsuit immediately versus waiting until after the criminal case is finished, and they depend on the facts and circumstances of the given situation. When the crime occurred, how soon the civil statute of limitations will expire, and evidentiary factors can all affect when a civil lawsuit gets filed.
Crime Victim Injury Case Results
- $4+ million – Drunk driving accident lawsuit against a bar for serving too much alcohol to the driver.
- Six Figure Recovery – Child molestation case against a judge Kelly v. Bradley (Case# 1:09-ev-00282-LDD); the case was featured on national and local news.
Legal Help for Crime Victims
Firm founder Brian Kent is a former sex crimes unit prosecutor who has represented countless victims in the civil courts. As a former prosecutor, he has the knowledge and skill to conduct the civil case so that it does not jeopardize the criminal one, and vice versa. This helps ensure that his clients get the best results possible. Call for a free consultation. 215.399.9255/800.220.7600
Our personal injury attorneys are licensed in multiple states including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. They also work with lawyers nationwide and can obtain special admission in other states on a case by case basis.