If you are injured during a criminal act, you have the legal right to sue the perpetrator for personal injury damages. This civil lawsuit will run parallel and independent of the criminal charges against the suspect. However, expect to face a few challenges with the lawsuit and recovery, challenges such as these four:
Insurance Coverage Exclude Criminal Acts
Most forms of insurance coverage don't apply to criminal acts. In fact, even coverage that you would normally expect to cater for such risks specifically excludes criminal acts. For example, when you buy homeowners insurance coverage, it protects you from injury lawsuits that others may lodge against you. However, home insurance companies exclude criminal acts, and won't pay for damages arising out of such acts. Therefore, if a thief attacks you with a knife, their insurance coverage isn't likely to pay for your injuries.
Most Criminals Don't Have Substantial Assets
Under normal circumstances the law allows you to go after a negligent person's personal assets if they don't have adequate insurance coverage. The personal assets usually used for settling lawsuits include salaries, cash in the bank as well as real estate properties. Unfortunately, most criminals who commit violent acts usually don't have these assets to begin with.
Defending a Violent Crime Is Expensive
Matters aren't helped by the fact that defending a criminal act, especially a violent crime that involved bodily injury, isn't cheap. By the time the trial is over the defendant, who may not have had much, to begin with, may not have any money left to pay your damages. The ensuing injury lawsuit may also deplete the defendant's resources further, making it difficult for them to pay your judgment.
Violent Crimes Attract Long Prison Sentences
One of the best things about personal injury settlements, at least from the point of view of plaintiffs, is that there is usually no statute of limitations regarding how long you have to collect your judgment. This means even if you are injured by someone who doesn't have a job, you can collect your money a few years later when the person gets a job. Unfortunately, violent crimes often attract extremely long period sentences, and you will have to wait a very long time if that is the only way you can collect your judgment.
There are a few exceptional situations in which insurance companies pay for crime-related injuries. For example, driving under the influence (DUI) is a crime, but insurance companies pay for injuries arising out of DUI accidents all the time. Therefore, if you have been injured by a criminal, consult an injury attorney to help you determine whether you can get compensation from the criminal's insurance coverage or you need to go after their personal assets.