Will the Person Who Caused My Injury Be Punished?
When someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing injures you, you may rightly feel that he or she should be punished for it. The law agrees with you. The type and amount of punishment he or she receives, however, depends on whether the state prosecutes him or her criminally, whether you sue him or her civilly for personal injury, or both.
Virtually all states have criminal statutes covering the following types of willful or negligent acts for which someone can face prosecution:
- Assault and battery
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Leaving the scene of an accident
- Reckless driving
Unfortunately, you have little or no control over whether the state chooses to prosecute the person who caused your injuries. If it does, and convicts the person, he or she faces considerable jail time, a hefty fine, and possibly having to pay you restitution.
You have the right to sue the person who caused your injuries. This is a civil suit, meaning that even if you win your case, the defendant will not go to jail. Rather, the civil court will award you money damages, the only form of justice civil courts can grant to injured plaintiffs. A substantial jury award can, however, serve to severely punish the defendant, even though that punishment is “only” financial. The punishment becomes greater if the court also awards you punitive damages above and beyond your actual damages.
Criminal Prosecution Plus Civil Lawsuit
It’s possible that the person who caused your injury could become the defendant in both a criminal prosecution and your civil lawsuit. Perhaps the most memorable occasion where this occurred was the “Trial of the Century” of former NFL football star O.J. Simpson back in 1995. The State of California prosecuted O.J. for the murder of his estranged wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman.
Led by formidable defense attorney Johnnie Cochran, O.J.’s “dream team” of high-profile lawyers ultimately achieved his acquittal after a highly publicized 11-month televised trial.
Nicole’s and Ron’s families subsequently sued O.J. in civil court for the wrongful deaths of their loved ones. The civil jury found O.J. responsible for the deaths and awarded the victims’ families $33.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages,
Your Legal Representation
As the O.J. case exemplifies, you can sue the person who caused your injuries in civil court even if a jury acquits him or her of having committed a crime. An experienced personal injury lawyer, like from Tuttle Law, can assess the circumstances of your case, determine its potential “worth,” and guide you through the entire process from beginning to end.