If you’ve been victimized by a crime, you may be feeling hurt and betrayed, searching for justice. Your perpetrator has been criminally charged, but what happens when they are sentenced to prison?
You may want to consider taking civil action against them as well. This type of lawsuit can provide many benefits. In this article, we broadly explore the process and challenges of suing someone who is already incarcerated.
Understand the difference between criminal and civil law
In the legal system, there are two primary categories of law: criminal and civil. Criminal law pertains to crimes committed against society, such as theft or murder, and the consequences involve fines or imprisonment. The burden of proof in a criminal case is "beyond a reasonable doubt.” The court must be 100% certain of someone’s guilt to convict them.
Civil law, on the other hand, deals with legal disputes between private parties, such as contract disputes, property disagreements, personal injury cases, and so on. The outcome includes monetary damages or injunctions. The burden of proof in a civil case is a "preponderance of evidence.” The court must be at least 51% or more convinced to rule in favor of the plaintiff.
What Types of Damages Can You Receive in a Civil Suit?
Lawsuit damages are designed to compensate an injured party for losses that the defendant caused.
Common lawsuit damages include:
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- The costs of medical bills
- Pain and suffering damages
- Punitive damages, which are awarded in cases where the defendant's actions were particularly egregious or malicious. If the defendant is already imprisoned for the same reasons as your lawsuit, punitive damages are highly likely.
Building Your Personal Injury Case
To start, gather all relevant evidence, including medical records, witness statements, and any other pertinent information. You'll also want to study the specific laws and regulations relevant to your case.
Consult with legal experts who can provide specific knowledge and guidance. From there, you can develop a clear and concise argument that highlights the strengths of your case, while addressing any potential weaknesses or counterarguments. By taking a thoughtful and detail-oriented approach to your legal strategy, you can increase your chances of success in your personal injury case.
The Challenges of Suing Someone Who Is in Jail or Prison
Filing a civil lawsuit against someone who's already in prison can be a complex and time-consuming process. It can be hard to understand the legal nuances involved.
Civil lawsuits are typically brought by people who have suffered damages from another’s actions. When the plaintiff wins, the defendant must pay them a court-ordered sum of money. Prisoners often have limited financial resources, which can make collecting lawsuit damages difficult. An incarcerated person could be, essentially, “lawsuit proof.” Even if they lose, they don’t have the means to pay damages, rendering the whole exercise unnecessary.
Also, being behind bars means the defendant has limited ability to participate in legal proceedings. They need clearance from their correctional facility, adding more paperwork and waiting to the process. Moreover, they could be moved to a new location before your suit gets underway, forcing you to locate them again and start the whole process over.
Despite these obstacles, remember that pursuing legal action against someone who has wronged you is still possible. Working with an experienced attorney who understands the complexities of this situation can increase your chance of success.
If you’ve been harmed by someone else’s actions, Law Offices of Jason K.S. Porter, P.A. is here for you. We can help you seek financial justice for your injuries. For a free consultation, contact our firm online or call our office directly at (904) 701-0591. **Consultation fees may apply to family law consultations.