Crime victims sometimes experience large physical, psychological and financial damages, and the criminal justice system is gradually being looked at for reparations.
The direct costs of crime to victims are measured at $105 billion annually, such as medical expenses, mental health counseling, and lost productivity. The intangible costs–the price of the victims ‘ pain, suffering, and reduced quality of life–are even greater: $345 billion annually. While some victims receive compensation through state victim compensation or restitution ordered as part of a sentence, these sources are often short of covering their total losses.
Restitution and state-funded insurance, in particular, rarely, if ever, compensate victims for the reduced quality of life arising from continued pain and suffering. These insurance can be given by a judgment in a civil suit as well as guarantee essential preventive measures that would not benefit from a criminal action.
Civil litigation can also have preventative consequences. Civil suits may be brought against other victimizing groups.
When can an individual bring a civil action against an agency?
According to Section 1798.45 of Civil Code of California an individual can bring civil action against an agency when that agency makes any of the following:
- Refuses to comply with the lawful request of an individual to inspect under subdivision (a) of Section 1798.34 of Civil Code of California;
- failure to maintain records relating to any person with such precision, validity, timeliness and completeness as is necessary to ensure justice in any decision relating to qualifications, character, rights, privileges or benefits to an individual which may be made on the basis of such records, if a determination is made as a consequence of such failure.
What victims should know about their rights to pursue civil remedies?
It is always the victim’s decision whether or not to go ahead with a civil action against a suspect. Nevertheless, victim service providers can serve as a valuable source of information to help victims make well-informed decisions. If victims are interested in filing a civil lawsuit, victim service providers should be prepared to discuss considerations to consider when choosing an attorney and other information related to referrals. Prosecutors and law enforcement officials should be able to provide basic information on civil litigation strategies and resources to victims of crime on relevant lawyer referral networks.
Also, victims need referrals to qualified civil lawyers. Membership groups for lawyers such as the American Bar Association, the American Trial Lawyers Association, local bar associations and state lawyers ‘ coalitions will encourage private-sector lawyers who specialize in civil litigation on behalf of victims of crime to develop and enter lawyers ‘ networks such as the Victim Attorneys’ Alliance and Consultants.
According to Section 1798.48 of Civil Code of California in any action brought pursuant to subsection (b) or (c) of Section 1798.45, the entity shall be liable to the victim for an amount equal to the total of:
- actual damages suffered by the individual, including mental distress damages.
- the expenses of the case and the fair compensation of the solicitor as decided by the court.