Victims’ Rights Lawyer
Nationwide Advocacy for Victims of Serious Crimes
Were you the victim of a crime that left you physically, mentally, emotionally, or financially injured? While the criminal justice system seeks action against the offender, you can stand up for yourself in the civil court system by demanding fair compensation for your harm and losses. To start a case that has the strength to take on tough defense strategies, begin by telling the victims’ rights attorneys of Sanford Heisler Sharp about what happened. With more than 30 years of crime victim advocacy experience, we are ready to handle cases involving misdemeanors, felonies, federal crimes, and more.
Contact us online or call 646-512-8609 to ask about how to start a civil claim as a victim of a serious crime.
Can I File a Lawsuit If I am the Victim of a Crime?
Victims of crimes – especially serious crimes with devastating consequences – should consider their options to file a civil lawsuit in pursuit of compensation. Your ability to file a lawsuit or claim will depend on how that crime harmed you or your family. In some cases, the outcome of a crime will not be severe enough to warrant a civil lawsuit, but don’t make that decision on your own. Talk to our nationwide crime victims’ attorneys to see if you could be owed compensation after a criminal suspect or offender harmed you.
Compensation in a civil lawsuit filed by a crime victim could cover:
- Medical treatment costs
- Months or years of therapy
- Value of lost or destroyed property
- Pain, suffering, and emotional trauma
The court could also be convinced to approve punitive damages, which are used as an additional way to punish the defendant. The more egregious or violent a crime in question, the more likely a court can be to approve punitive damages.
Do Civil Lawsuits Require a Criminal Conviction?
Contrary to common belief, you can pursue a civil lawsuit against a criminal offender without that person ever being convicted of the crime. The civil court system is intentionally kept separate from the criminal court system, so a ruling in one doesn’t necessarily affect a ruling in the other. In this way, you are able to bring a claim against someone, regardless of what the state or federal government has done to prosecute them.
Famously and controversially, O.J. Simpson was not convicted of double murder charges. He did, however, lose a wrongful death lawsuit brought against him in civil court. The jury in the criminal court did not find that there was enough evidence to criminally convict him, but the jury in the civil court did find that there was evidence enough to order him to pay those damages.
Differences Between Civil Damages & Victim Restitution
In a crime victim’s lawsuit, two forms of compensation could be in question:
- Civil damages: Civil damage is awarded to a plaintiff as part of a civil claim or lawsuit handled in civil court. This is the type of damage that you can pursue in a crime victim’s lawsuit, whether or not the person who harmed you is convicted.
- Victim restitution: Victim restitution can be folded into sentencing requirements once a criminal defendant is convicted. The criminal court will order the defendant to pay the victim for any losses that the crime caused them to suffer.
Your case might be able to benefit from both. While we are focused on securing civil damages for our clients, we can advise you if the prosecutor handling the criminal case should pursue victim restitution as well.
What is the Burden of Proof in a Civil Lawsuit?
In a civil case, the plaintiff must use evidence to prove that their argument is “more likely to be true than not true.” This is also called a preponderance of evidence. It should be noted that establishing a preponderance of evidence requires less intensive evidence than a criminal case, which requires that the prosecution can prove their argument is true “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In other words, it is easier to establish “guilt” in a civil case than it is in a criminal case.
This difference in evidential requirements is one of the reasons why someone can be cleared of criminal charges but still ordered to pay damages to the alleged victims of a crime in a civil claim. As mentioned previously, such a situation occurred with the O.J. Simpson criminal and civil trials.
How an Attorney Can Help
Dealing with the aftermath of a crime can be exhausting, especially if that crime left you or a loved one seriously injured. You might know that you should pursue compensation and justice in a civil claim that is separate from the state’s criminal case against the offender, but you might not have the energy to do it. This is where Sanford Heisler Sharp can step in and take over.
Our nationwide crime victims’ lawyers can help with your claim in many ways, such as:
- Investigating the circumstances of the crime to uncover cause and liability.
- Calculate the damages owed to you by the offender/defendant.
- Uncover insurance policies that we might be able to file against.
- Build and file the claim.
- Engage in negotiations with the defense and their representation.
- Litigate in a civil trial if necessary.
- Reduce the stress you feel throughout the case.
- And much more.
Types of Criminal Victim Cases We Handle
At Sanford Heisler Sharp we believe in standing up for people who have been victims of all types of crimes. If you were hurt by criminal actions, anywhere in the country, let us know, and we will let you know if you should pursue a civil claim for compensation.
In premises liability cases, we hold property owners liable when they fail to take sufficient steps to protect guests or patrons from suffering harm, including from criminal acts. Crimes at shopping centers, apartments, hotels, banks, ATMs, and other businesses are premises liability cases. Sanford Heisler Sharp has pursued cases against business owners on behalf of clients who experienced sexual assault, physical assault, or the wrongful death of a loved one – even when the perpetrator had no connection to the business.
Drunk Driving Accidents
Survivors of drunk driving accidents have the right to seek compensation from the people who caused the accident as well as their insurance company. Attorneys at Sanford Heisler Sharp can advocate for survivors of drunk driving accidents to ensure they receive the maximum recovery.
Wrongful Service of Alcohol & Dram Shop
Sanford Heisler Sharp pursues cases against bar owners who “overserve” an intoxicated person or furnish alcohol to a minor. Those bar owners can be held liable for criminal acts committed by the offender, including sexual assault and drunk driving, or for criminal acts committed against the person to whom alcohol was wrongfully provided.
Sexual Abuse Victims
Our law firm has an intentional focus on civil claims brought forth by victims of sexual abuse and assault. We have the resources, insight, and experience required to challenge those that defend sexual abusers. With our representation, you can fight for compensation that helps pay for medical care, trauma therapy, wages you have not earned due to traumatization, and much more.
Why Sanford Heisler Sharp?
You should choose a law firm that is ready to fight for you no matter what. You should choose Sanford Heisler Sharp. We have brought claims against Larry Nassar, Jeffrey Epstein, and other powerful criminal offenders. With our victim-centered approach to cases and nearly limitless resources, we are one of the country’s most trusted names for crime victims’ lawsuits. Find out for yourself by reaching out to our firm today.