Gunshot wound injury claims are often filed after a shooting accident occurs, such as an unintentional discharge while hunting or at a shooting range. There are, however, some claims filed by people who have been shot by assailants carrying out criminal acts. For gunshot wound injury claims in response to a violent assault, does the criminal case against the assailant make a difference on the pending injury claim?
Criminal Courts are Separate from Civil Courts
The American criminal justice system is its own separate, unique entity that is not meant to be influenced by anything else. This separation is good in that it provides us all more confidence in the fairness of the system when a jury reaches a sentence, or a judge decides upon conviction penalties.
The separation of the criminal court system and the civil court system is a little problematic for gunshot wound claimants and plaintiffs. Personal injury cases go to civil court, which is intentionally distanced from the criminal court. As such, what happens in one court is not supposed to affect what happens in the other.
That is to say, if someone is convicted of armed assault and for shooting someone else, then the victim’s injury claim does not necessarily benefit from that conviction. There have been plenty of times when someone is convicted of assault with a deadly weapon, but the subsequent injury claims have not been successful. Of course, there have also been many incidents in which someone is not convicted of a crime in criminal court but is still ordered to pay restitution for that crime to the alleged victims in civil court.
One famous example of this unusual duality is the O.J. Simpson murder trial. To the surprise of many Americans, O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of all counts of murder in 1995. Yet in 1997, a civil court jury found him responsible for both murders and he was ordered to pay millions of dollars in restitution to the families of the victims.
Conviction Can Still Benefit a Claim
A conviction for a gun crime or assault with a deadly weapon does not guarantee a gunshot wound injury claim’s success, but it certainly is not a detriment. There will be more reason for a civil court jury or judge to award compensation if a criminal court has also been convinced of the defendant’s wrongdoing. After all, the results of a criminal case are public record and could easily be used as evidence in a civil claim, despite it not technically being a direct commentary on whether or not the defendant is criminally guilty.
To use a criminal conviction in a gunshot injury claim effectively, it is encouraged that you always work with an experienced personal injury lawyer. An attorney can help you understand liability law, the usefulness of different types of evidence, the overall value of your injury claim, and what parties should be named as defendants.
For gunshot injury claims for crimes or firearm accidents in Atlanta, come to Pratt Clay, LLC. Our attorneys are capable of negotiating a fair settlement on your behalf, as well as litigating on your behalf if a settlement is not possible. Call 404-566-9460 to discuss your case with us today.