For victims of a crime, such as drunk driving or a violent assault, it’s not uncommon for there to be two cases moving simultaneously through the court system: The criminal and the civil. Criminal cases are pursued by state or federal prosecutors while civil complaints are pursued by the victims who have been harmed. The goal of the criminal case is to penalize the wrongdoer, while the purpose of the civil case is to make whole (to whatever extent possible) the person wronged.
It is not unheard of for judges in criminal court to order restitution to the victim, who may or may not have a pending civil case. However, that restitution is unlikely to cover the full cost of damages. Victims may be lucky if they get even a fraction of their losses covered – and that’s assuming the defendant even pays. Although criminal restitution isn’t dischargeable in a bankruptcy, it’s not uncommon for victims to walk away without ever seeing a dime of that money. On the other hand, civil lawsuit damages take into consideration not just medical bills, but lost wages, pain and suffering and loss of consortium. Further, they are usually paid by insurance companies and other third parties, which increases the chances of the victim actually receiving the money owed.
This is why it’s imperative to discuss your case with an experienced Fort Lauderdale injury lawyer – even if the prosecutor pursuing action against the person who harmed you promises to also ask for restitution. Continue reading