Investigators examine a crime scene where a policeman shot an innocent driver to death in 2016. The survivors of the victim received compensation. (Tony Webster photo/Wikimedia Commons)
If you are the victim of a crime, it may be possible to file a lawsuit seeking compensation from the perpetrator or from others, even if they were not involved in the attack.
And in some bad news for U.S. residents, the number of crimes were on the increase from 2014 to 2015. For example, there were nearly 16,000 murders in the United States, up 11 percent from 2014. There were more than 90,000 reported rapes and more than 327,000 robberies.
Sometimes criminals have assets that crime victims can sue to get damages. Other times victims can sue if, for example, a property or business owner failed to make premises safe. And the damages from crimes are often considerable. Crime victims may face medical bills, which can be exorbitant; time off of work; and physical and emotional pain and suffering.
It’s important for California crime victims to know that they don’t necessarily have to wait for a lengthy legal wrangle to get help with their bills. California has a program called the California Victim Compensation Board that reimburses victims up to $70,000 for applications filed after January 1, 2017.
While the board does not cover expenses related to pain and suffering, it does cover mental health services and medical and dental bills.
The types of crimes covered by the board are many. The types of crimes victims may receive compensation include:
- Assault with a deadly weapon
- Battery that results in injury
- Child abuse or child sexual assault
- Elder abuse
- Domestic violence
- Human trafficking
- Vehicular manslaughter
- Sexual assault
- Crimes that result in injury or threat thereof
Some crimes that happen outside of California are covered, too. And relatives of victims who suffer financial losses because of the crime can also receive compensation, including spouses or domestic partners, children or parents, legal guardians, grandparents and grandchildren.
Another avenue of recovering damages in California is by obtaining legal restitution from perpetrators. The California Victim Compensation Board has a frequently asked questions page on restitution. It states:
“Restitution means paying back. As defined in a law dictionary, restitution is ‘the act of making good or giving equivalent for any loss, damage or injury.’ It is also important to know that Court ordered Restitution is usually not dischargeable in Bankruptcy.
Another part of the FAQ states:
“If you incurred losses, including property loss, as a direct result of a crime, you have the right to ask the court to order an offender to pay restitution to you. You have the right to restitution regardless of whether or not you have received payment from an insurance company. If you have received an award from the California Victim Compensation Board (CalVCB) to cover some or all of your losses, the judge will require the offender to repay CalVCB for that amount.”
A law firm can help you file for compensation or help you seek restitution when the person who committed the crime against you goes to court for sentencing.
The California Victim Compensation Board explains:
“As a victim of crime, you have a constitutional and statutory right to request restitution for your economic losses. At the time of sentencing, the deputy district attorney must ask the court to order the offender to pay restitution. You may be required to contact the probation department in your county to advise the probation officer handling the pre-sentence report of your losses. Before the sentencing, contact the district attorney’s office and inform the deputy district attorney assigned to your case of your crime-related losses. The following agencies can assist you in providing information regarding your losses to the court:
- Victim Witness Assistance Centers
- The District Attorney’s Office in the county where the crime happened
- The Probation Department in the county where the crime happened
“It is recommended that you keep copies of all the bills, receipts, estimates of expenses and any other documents/ correspondence related to the crime. You can provide these copies to the district attorney’s office to help them calculate the amount the offender owes you and keep copies for your records should you need to refer back to them at a later date.”
But one of the most effective ways to obtain substantial damages for crime victimization damages and expenses is through the civil courts. Victims can recover a greater array of damages than from the board—compensation that may help them get their life and health back. In addition to holding parties for victims’ suffering responsible, a lawsuit can prompt a negligent party to reform. A wealthy perpetrator may think twice about committing a crime against any future victims. Or a concert venue or other venue, for example, may be prompted to provide much better security and thereby prevent future crimes.
Some other possible circumstances where a person may collect damages are if a child was sexually assaulted at a day-care center. Another one is if a homeowner or bar serves a guest too much alcohol and the guest drives home and injures you or injures or kills a loved one.
Sometimes a perpetrator’s insurance, whether auto, homeowner’s or umbrella, will not apply to intentional criminal acts. But sometimes it does. An attorney can help you determine the difference. And sometimes damages can be obtained for negligence as opposed to intentional crime. And as we stated, sometimes criminals have financial assets that can be tapped.
Time is of the essence in many criminal cases because of statutes of limitation, which delineate time frames for prosecutions or civil legal actions.
Call Krasney Law if you were injured or suffered emotional distress or agony over a crime. We are experts in personal injury law and have experience getting maximum compensation for victims of any type of personal injury, whether inflicted intentionally, or unintentionally in accidents. Our phone number is (909) 380-7200. We will charge you nothing for an initial consultation, and we may arrange payment on a contingency basis. That is, we don’t get paid unless you get paid by either a fair settlement or we go to trial.