Can You Sue For Injuries Sustained In A Criminal Assault?

Suppose someone committed a crime against you. In the process of the attack, you were seriously injured. Can you sue that individual for injury compensation the same way somebody hurt in a slip-and-fall on a sidewalk might? Yes, you can. Here's what a personal injury attorney will likely tell you about such a case.

Separate the Criminal from Civil Issues

It's critical to understand that criminal and civil laws don't overlap, at least not in terms of everything happening in one case. A single incident can lead to both criminal and civil legal questions, however, you are required to address them separately. Notably, a personal injury lawyer may want to wait to see how the criminal proceedings go. After all, it might be much easier to sue if you can say the defendant was convicted.

Different Standards of Proof

On the civil side of the ledger, this is usually a net good for the claimant. Foremost, a civil victory doesn't require a criminal conviction. You can still pursue an injury claim if the attacker avoids prosecution because your injuries might still be wrongful even if the defendant's actions weren't 100% criminal.

Secondly, the standard of proof is lower in civil proceedings. Rather than the criminal standard of proof beyond a shadow of a doubt, you only have to prove your version of events is most likely the right one.

Sometimes You Can Sue a Different Defendant

There are two legal theories that might allow you to sue someone other than the attacker. First, premises liability requires businesses to secure their locations enough that customers will be safe. For example, if a bar has a documented history of fights and not keeping enough security, it might be liable for not having enough bouncers to prevent an injurious incident.

Second, vicarious liability does apply in a few rare scenarios. If the court determined that a security guard's employer wrongfully ordered them to attack you, for example, the employer might be vicariously liable. By way of designation, an owner also might be liable even if a manager ordered the attack. The argument is that the manager acted as an extension of the owner's authority.

Why does this matter? Violent attackers aren't always people who are flush with money. You may need to sue a property owner or an attacker's employer to have any hope of getting compensation to cover medical bills. For more information, contact a personal injury attorney.