If you've recently suffered an attack at the hands of another person, you may have suffered debt from medical costs or lost wages during your recovery. Fortunately, you don't have to stay in debt forever. You can pursue a civil suit against the person who hurt you and get compensation for your expenses. Before you file the suit, though, you'll need to understand a few key points about the process for intentional tort cases.
Civil Cases Are Entirely Separate From Criminal Ones
You might think that if your assailant was convicted of assault and battery charges, you'll be able to get compensation immediately. After all, the government decided this person did in fact commit the crimes in question, right? Alternately you may be downtrodden after your assailant goes free, believing that you'll never get compensation for your injuries and suffering. However, in both cases, you couldn't be more wrong.
Regardless of what happens in the criminal case against the person who assaults you, you may still be able to build a strong civil case for restitution. You can even pursue civil damages from someone you don't wish to charge criminally, such as an ex-friend or family member who hurt you and who you can't bear to report to police.
In fact, criminal and civil courts are different enough that it's common for a case to fail in one court, usually criminal, but still succeed in a civil hearing. This is because there is a lower burden of proof in civil suits, your attorney does the arguing instead of the prosecutor, the defendant doesn't have a right to a free attorney, and you may not even have to convince a jury. With these factors combined, it's obvious why there's still hope for compensation even if the defendant isn't criminally convicted.
You'll Still Need To Prove Your Side
You can win a civil suit without a criminal conviction, but it's much easier if you do have one. If you don't, you'll have to start your case off with evidence that the defendant intimidated you, gave you reason to believe you would be attacked in the imminent future, and then committed harmful acts against your person. This can be difficult if the case failed in criminal courts, but there is some wiggle room due to the lowered evidence requirements in civil courts.
Though it can be a big undertaking, proving the defendant committed the crime in question is just the beginning if you want the money you're owed. You'll also need to prove that any injury or insult you received during the assault and battery was responsible for the money you're seeking. Proof of injury, trauma, lost wages, damaged reputation, or suffering may be required to back up the claims you make.
If the attack has left you permanently disabled, you'll need to talk to your lawyer about an effective way of estimating the value of your lifetime lost wages. Whatever formula you use, you'll also need to have medical testimony to back up your number. Be sure to also include potential future medical care costs, if they will be necessary.
You Can Receive More Than Just Compensation
Of course, if your case is successful, you should be reimbursed for all or most of your medical costs, missed wages, and other concrete expenses you face as a result of the attack. These may not be the only damages you are awarded, though. Depending on how much you suffered from your injuries, you may also be able to seek some nominal damages, like reimbursement for pain and suffering. These damages, while more nebulous to calculate, can do a little bit to help you cope with the less concrete changes to your life.
Punitive damages are also a distinct possibility in intentional tort cases like assault and battery suits. These damages aren't calculated with any sort of formula, nor are they meant to somehow help the victim. Instead, when a defendant is proven to have committed extraordinarily severe acts, punitive damages can be awarded to you in order to deter future criminal actions. If you can demonstrate the unusual severity of your attack, you may be able to convince the judge to award you these damages.
Once you're ready to seek compensation, you should get in contact with your injury lawyer and discuss pursuing your assailant in civil court. With good legal counsel and enough evidence on your side, you should be able to get the help you need -- and maybe even a little more.