Often, people who are not closely affiliated with the court are not overly familiar with the processes of law. Learning some of the basics before finding yourself in the courtroom can give you added confidence and reduce related anxiety.
One of the first questions that most clients will blurt out when entering an attorney’s office is ‘Can I sue (insert name here)?’. In some instances, the answer is ‘yes’ and in some cases, the answer is ‘no’. But, if your uncertainty is due to the fact that the person (or organization) in question is already facing criminal charges, then chances are that you will be safe to file the lawsuit.
Civil Lawsuits involve two parties – the victim and the accused.
The accused party is brought to court on the grounds that his or her negligence led to the victim being harmed in some way. The defendant can be a single person, a group of people, or a large corporation, but the rules remain the same. The victim must prove that because of how a person acted (or failed to act), he or she was harmed physically, emotionally, or financially.
Criminal Lawsuits do not directly involve the victim (though he or she may be called to testify).
These cases are filed by a government representative, who is meant to represent the people of the United States. The guilty party is accused of breaking the law and, if found guilty, will be sentenced to some form of punishment. It could be jail time, probation, or monetary fines. However, none of the money paid will be received by the victim.
Because the criminal case does nothing for the victim, the court allows that person to file a separate civil case. This provides the victim with the opportunity to collect damages, which can cover some (or all) of the expenses related to the harm done.