For crime victims, seeing an offender convicted is satisfying, but does
little to make the victim whole. In Maryland, every
victim of crime has the right to file a lawsuit against the perpetrator to recover compensation for the harm that he or
she suffered. Victims may also be able to sue those whose negligence allowed
the crime to happen.
When a perpetrator is convicted of a crime, the court can order him or
her to pay the victims
restitution, which compensates them for any money lost as a direct result of the crime.
This may cover expenses such as medical bills, rehabilitation or therapy,
counseling, and lost wages. If the defendant does not pay, the court can
order money to be withheld from his or her wages.
Crime Victim Compensation
Criminal Injuries Compensation Board administers crime victim compensation. Compensation helps violent crime
victims cover certain out-of-pocket expenses.
A person is eligible to receive compensation if he or she:
●Has been physically, mentally, or emotionally injured by a crime;
●Is the spouse or parent of a victim;
●Was dependent on a homicide victim; or
●Paid for the funeral expenses for a homicide victim.
To receive compensation, the victim must report to police within 72 hours
of the crime, then file an application within three years. Victims may
receive between $5,000 and $45,000 in compensation funds. Compensation
may cover expenses including medical costs, disability, mental health
counselling, funeral expenses, and dependency on a victim.
Civil lawsuits may be a helpful resource for crime victims when other methods
of compensation fail. Crime victim compensation and restitution often
do not cover a victim’s full economic losses, and do not address
pain and suffering and other noneconomic harms.
Civil suits give victims the opportunity to control the case. In a criminal
case, the victim’s role is merely as a witness, and victims have
no authority to control the direction of the case. But in a civil case,
the victim is a party, and has ultimate decision-making authority, including
over the approval of any settlement agreement.
Another major benefit of civil cases is that a victim may file a civil
case whether or not there was a criminal conviction. In a criminal case,
the prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil
case, however, the victim must only prove that the defendant is responsible
by a preponderance of the evidence, which is a much lower standard. Perhaps
the most famous example of this is the O.J. Simpson case. Simpson was
found not guilty of the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend
Ronald Goldman because the evidence was not strong enough. But when their
families brought a wrongful death suit, they were able to recover $33.5
million in compensatory and punitive damages under the lower preponderance
of the evidence standard.
Additionally, civil suits can have crime-prevention effects. Victims can
sue parties who did not perpetrate the crime, but who are responsible
in part for the crime’s occurrence. For example, businesses like
shopping centers or hotels that fail to take adequate security measures
may be subject to civil suits, and are more likely than the perpetrator
to have the resources to fully compensate the victim. These lawsuits also
help with crime prevention by giving the businesses an economic incentive
to protect patrons from crime.
Charles County, MD Personal Injury Lawyers that Fight for You
If you have suffered injury at the hands of a criminal offender, please
Law Office of Robert R. Castro at 301-705-5253 for a free initial consultation.