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.
Below are some additional differences between civil and criminal cases in Alabama:
- Criminal cases are designed to hold the defendant accountable to the state, whereas civil cases are focused on giving the crime victim their own “day in court”;
- In criminal cases, the state must prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, whereas in a civil case, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant is liable by a preponderance of the evidence;
- Even if a defendant is found not guilty in a criminal case, the crime victim can still bring a civil case against the defendant; and
- If a defendant is found guilty in a criminal case, the sanctions include probation, fines, or jail time, whereas, in a civil case, the sanctions are generally focused on providing the crime victim with compensation for their injuries.
Have You Been a Victim of a Crime?
If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of a crime, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through an Alabama personal injury lawsuit. It is important to remember that, while the government may bring charges against the defendant in a criminal case, the focus will not be on providing you with compensation for your injuries. To discuss your case with a dedicated Alabama injury attorney, contact the Reeves Law Firm at 256-355-3311. Attorney Greg Reeves has extensive experience helping Alabama crime victims seek the compensation they deserve. Call today to schedule your free consultation.