In short, the answer is YES. Victims of criminal acts, whether intentional or unintentional, are generally entitled to be made whole following injury or loss caused by an offender. Sometimes this is accomplished through court ordered restitution, other times the victim will seek compensation through a civil suit.
During my years working as an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney in Culpeper, I prosecuted many violent offenders under Virginia criminal law, seeking to hold them accountable for their actions through incarceration, probation, various forms of court ordered treatment, and other penal measures . In every case involving an individual victim, it was important for them to know that the perpetrator had been held accountable by the Commonwealth, and that some measure of justice had been served.
In some cases, victims also pursued justice through the civil court system by seeking compensation in a personal injury claim against the offender. Under Virginia tort law, victims of a criminal act may seek all the same types of damages available to the victim of a car accident or other act of negligence; for example, compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc. As a personal injury attorney with Burnett & Williams, I can now help victims pursue justice on the civil side of the law, working with a firm that has a long track record of helping people injured by criminal actions ranging from traffic violations to violent sexual assault. A measure of peace is often afforded the victim who sees his perpetrator sentenced by the court. In some cases, however, justice is not truly served until the victim is made whole by the civil system.
Take, for example, a recent Georgia case in which a woman who was sexually assaulted as a teenager received a civil judgement for $1 billion dollars from a civil jury. The security guard who raped her had already been sentenced to 20 years in prison, but she had never received any kind of apology or acceptance of responsibility from the security firm that he worked for. She pursued a personal injury claim against the company and the perpetrator, and a jury strongly agreed with her arguments about the weight of the loss she had experienced. She will never collect the full $1 billion dollars, but, hopefully, the verdict will provide a sense of justice that the criminal court could not.
If you have been seriously injured due to the criminal actions of another person, we may be able to help you establish justice in your life. Call anytime for a free consultation with our staff: 800-969-1650.