An estimated 30 million people in the U.S. are victimized by crime annually, and the consequences of that crime often extend far beyond the individual act. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates victims - and those who survive them - are left with substantial costs for medical treatment, rehabilitation, counseling, lost wages and property damage.
Every year, those costs stack up to $450 billion.
But the criminal justice system is not designed to compensate victims of crime for their losses. True, some cases do result in orders of restitution. But the victim has little control over the proceedings, and the goal of the criminal justice system is punishment of the offender, not restoration of the victim.
This is why many victims of violent crime (and/or their surviving loved ones) may seek justice through the civil court system. In this forum, victims have a greater amount of control. They can seek financial compensation. They can hold offenders directly accountable. They can also pursue action against other third-party responsible parties, such as businesses, apartment complexes and shopping centers that failed to have adequate security. They may also pursue a civil lawsuit even if the criminal action sputters out and fails to result in a conviction.