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When Injury and Criminal Law Intertwine

Posted On March 25, 2019

When a person suffers injuries caused by another person, the injury victim may choose/or not to file a tort claim or lawsuit against the other party. When injuries are the result of a crime, prosecution of the offender commences without the victim’s permission.

The Tort vs Crime Distinction

Although tort laws and criminal laws often intertwine personal in injury cases, there are fundamental differences between the two. While tort law prohibits wrongdoing against private individuals, criminal law prohibits public wrongdoing. Typically, tort law requires harm or injury as a prerequisite to some type of remedy, while criminal law does not. If a person is injured as the result of a criminal act, laws permit criminal prosecution against the offender without the injury victim’s consent. Tort law permits a remedy such as a lawsuit through a personal injury lawyer against a person who injuries another person. Criminal law punishes offenders that cause harm, as well as immoral acts and dangerous acts that have not yet caused injuries.

Tort Law

Tort law deals with whether a person should be held liable for another person’s injuries or property damages, as well as the types of monetary awards allowed. Tort disputes are settled in civil court where an injury victim seeks compensation from another party. There are several types of tort claims:

  • Negligence – The most common type of tort, negligence claims involve injuries caused by another person’s negligence or disregard for harm.
  • Strict Liability – These torts often involve defective products and animal attacks. Regardless of the circumstances, strict liability torts always hold one party liable, even if injuries are unintentional.
  • Intentional Harm – These torts occur when one person intentionally causes harm to another person. Cases often intertwine tort laws and criminal laws when criminal acts cause injuries. If the injury victim decides to file an injury lawsuit, the offender can face legal actions, as well as criminal prosecution.

Criminal Law

Criminal laws permit harsher liabilities than tort laws, including steep fines and long prison sentences. Unlike defendants in tort cases, criminal defendants must be proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt in a criminal court. If a defendant is found guilty, law requires that the punishment fit the crime. In contrast, tort cases don’t base the outcome on proportional wrongdoing, only compensation for the injury victim’s damages. Most criminal cases deal with intentional harm or reckless endangerment and involve a broader spectrum of fault than tort cases.

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