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February 19th, 2015

Pennsylvania Crime Victim Injuries – Evidence of Injuries in Civil Lawsuits

Victims of crime often suffer multiple types of injuries. What many victims do not know is that they may be entitled to financial compensation for their injuries. In civil injury lawsuits, the strength of the evidence will ultimately determine whether and how much financial compensation will be awarded. This article will discuss evidence or proof of injuries in a crime victims civil lawsuit.

Under Pennsylvania injury law, the plaintiff in the lawsuit must prove their injuries and damages. Mere speculation is not enough. There must be concrete evidence of the injuries and damages caused by the defendant. These principles apply in a crime victim injury lawsuit.

Related: Assault & Shooting Lawsuits in PA or NJ – Claims for Financial Compensation

There are two types of injuries in victim crime victim civil lawsuits: physical injuries and emotional/psychological injuries. In general, evidence is broken down into two categories: documentary and testimonial. Documentary evidence is what it sounds like, and includes tangible evidence such as: documents, pictures, diagrams, etc. In a crime victim injury case, documentary evidence often includes medical records, pictures of injuries, diagrams of where the criminal activity occurred, etc.

Testimonial evidence includes testimony of the parties, witnesses and expert witnesses. In a crime victim injury case, testimony is necessary from the injured victim. In addition, it may be necessary to obtain testimony from other witnesses, such as the responding police officer, medical professionals, etc.

Sufficient evidence of physical and emotional injuries often includes a mix of documentary evidence and testimonial evidence. For instance, at trial, documentary evidence can be quite powerful and is often used to support testimonial evidence. For example, a crime victim may testify about physical injuries suffered in an assault, and showing pictures of the injuries can help the victim explain the injuries.

Crime Victim Injuries – Civil Legal Rights

It is important to note that many victims are simply unaware of their civil legal rights. Many victims focus entirely on the criminal case and are either 1. never told that they have civil legal rights, or 2. don’t believe that they could win their civil case. This tends to happen in situations where there is not enough evidence to proceed with the criminal case, which is due to the fact that the burden of proof in criminal cases is much higher than the burden of proof in civil cases. Because of this, a sexual abuse case may not be pursued in the criminal courts, but this does not mean that a civil case is automatically lost. Even if a criminal case fails or is never pursued, a crime victim can still proceed with a civil lawsuit and win.

It’s also worth noting that under Pennsylvania and New Jersey civil laws, not only is the direct criminal perpetrator liable, other parties may be held liable as well. The typical example involves the landlord of an apartment complex in Philadelphia who is held liable for failing to secure the premises. Basically, a landlord who knows of a security risk, such as a broken door lock, can be held negligent when the unsecured door leads to a criminal assault. The key in these types of cases is proving that the landlord had prior knowledge of the condition, i.e., the unreasonable security risk. A tenant or guest of a tenant who is injured in a criminal assault can obtain financial compensation from the landlord.

If you or a loved one suffered physical or emotional injury due to crime, please contact our office for a free consultation. Our firm has offices throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. (866) 641-0806

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