Serving Maryland and Washington D.C. 301.870.1200

Personal Injury Suits for Crime Victims

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.

Restitution

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

Maryland’s 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 Suits

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 contact the Law Office of Robert R. Castro at 301-705-5253 for a free initial consultation.

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