The short answer is yes. The law permits anyone who’s suffered a loss to file a civil claim, whether or not there are criminal proceedings related to the case. Negligence plays a vital role in the outcome of any tort lawsuit.
Depending on the acts that led to your losses, the state prosecutor might open a criminal case against the negligent party as well. This is usually meant to punish the offender for breaking the law and make an example of them in society. Some common types of loss that can have a criminal case include wrongful death, road accidents, and medical malpractice.
However, a criminal case doesn’t do much to help the victim recover. This is where a civil claim comes in.
What Is the Difference Between Criminal and Civil Litigation?
Many victims of personal injuries and other forms of loss wonder whether there’s a need to file a claim in a civil court while there’s a criminal case for the same.
To understand why a civil claim is important in such situations, let’s look at the difference between criminal and civil litigation.
Different Types of Courts
Criminal cases take place in a criminal court while civil disputes are solved in a civil court.
With civil claims, the plaintiff can choose to settle the matter outside of the court through negotiations with the defendant or, when applicable, their insurance company. If an agreement or settlement is not reached, the case goes to trial in a civil court to find an outcome.
Different Set of Remedies and Penalties
The penalties for a crime depend on the magnitude and classification. Consequences could include incarceration, house arrest, probation, community service, and fines paid to the court. Depending on the crime, a criminal court can also order the accused to pay a certain amount of money to the victim, but this does not cover the victim’s losses exhaustively.
A civil claim, on the other hand, results in financial remedies. The aim is to compensate a victim for any losses caused by the incident. With the help of a personal injury lawyer, you can calculate the total value of your claim and determine the amount of compensation owed.
Punishment in Civil Court Vs. Criminal Court
When it comes to civil claims, the process is meant to attempt to make a victim whole again through financial remedy. Most of these civil wrongs involve some sort of negligence caused by another person.
A criminal case, on the other hand, punishes a crime committed against a state or federal authority. Crimes are classified into four primary groups and the punishment often depends on the category.
Initiating a Criminal Case Vs. Civil Claim?
In a criminal case, the state prosecutor brings criminal charges against the suspect and works towards proving guilt.
In a civil claim, the plaintiff of a tort lawsuit files a claim of loss caused by someone else’s negligence. As a victim, you can also have your attorney handle the proceedings on your behalf.
A Criminal Case Provides Little to No Financial Remedies
As we mentioned, a criminal court judge might require the accused to pay a particular amount of money to the victim as restitution for wronging them. However, this award does not reflect the compensation owed for the losses they caused you.
The financial remedies included in a civil claim are all-inclusive. They cover both economic loss like lost wages, property damage, and lost income, as well as non-economic loss like pain and suffering, mental distress, loss of consortium, loss of parental guidance, and so on.