When someone is a victim of a crime in Alabama, they may have several avenues to seek compensation for their injuries. One method of pursuing compensation is by participating in a criminal prosecution against the offender. Importantly, criminal cases are brought not by the accident victim but by the government. Thus, the focus is not necessarily on providing the victim of a crime with compensation but on punishing the behavior of the defendant.
That being said, criminal courts in Alabama do have the ability to order an offender to pay restitution to a crime victim. However, restitution is limited by the defendant’s ability to pay. Additionally, the Alabama Crime Victims’ Compensation Commission provides monetary compensation to crime victims if they meet certain criteria. Compensation awarded by the Commission may include medical and dental care, prescriptions, psychiatric care and counseling, rehabilitation, moving expenses, travel expenses, limited property reimbursement, future economic loss, lost wages, and funerals. However, the Commission will not issue compensation for a victim’s pain and suffering.
In order for a victim of a crime to obtain compensation for their pain and suffering, the victim must file an Alabama personal injury lawsuit. Unlike a criminal prosecution, civil cases are brought by the crime victim, which therefore allows the crime victim to have more control over the case. Importantly, the burden of proof in order to establish liability in a civil case is less than is required to prove an offender guilty in a criminal trial.