If you’ve been seriously injured in an accident that was caused by someone else’s reckless, negligent, or intentional conduct, you may be able to sue that person and seek damages to compensate you for the losses you’ve suffered as a result of their actions. Sometimes, those actions which have caused you so much pain not only can be the basis of civil liability, they can also constitute criminal offenses.
Many actions are considered crimes under the law precisely because of the damage, injury, and trauma to other people that they can leave in their wake. A drunk driver who seriously injures or kills other drivers, passengers, or pedestrians; an attacker who sexually assaults a victim, leaving them with physical and emotional scars that can last a lifetime; a bank robber who shoots an innocent bystander; all of these are examples of cases which can result in both criminal charges and civil personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits.
In many if not most states, crime victims play a minimal role if any in the criminal prosecutions of the person who did them harm beyond perhaps testifying as a witness about the events surrounding the crime. In Connecticut, however, crime victims are guaranteed extensive rights and protections by the Connecticut Constitution and state statutes.
Among other rights, the Connecticut Constitution guarantees that crime victims are entitled to:
- Get information about the arrest, conviction, sentence, imprisonment, and release of the offender.
- Be reasonably protected from the accused throughout the criminal justice process.
- Be told of court dates.
- Talk to the prosecutor about the case.
- Have the chance to agree or disagree with any plea agreement between the offender and the prosecutor and to make a statement to the court before the court decides if it will approve the agreement.
- Attend the trial and all other court proceedings (arraignment, pre-trial, and sentencing) unless the victim is testifying.
- Make a statement to the court at sentencing.
- Seek restitution for expenses or property lost because of the crime.
Additional protections and rights are provided for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, and Connecticut has a designated Office of Victim Services to assist with the protection and exercise of those rights. This includes administering the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund that may provide reimbursement and financial assistance for expenses related to the crime, such as medical, dental, counseling, and lost wages.
Even if some compensation is received from the state, that does not preclude the recovery of damages in a civil suit against the offender. Often the state’s prosecution of its criminal case will be pending at the same time the victim’s civil suit is pending.
If you are considering or are currently involved in a civil personal injury or wrongful death suit against an individual who is also facing criminal charges arising out of the same incident, it is important that you consult with your personal injury lawyer before making any decisions as to the exercise of your rights as a Connecticut crime victim. Your lawyer can not only assist you with those rights, he or she can also work to ensure that you do not inadvertently do or say anything that could damage your claims for damages.
Nugent & Bryant: Your Connecticut Personal Injury Law Firm
At Nugent & Bryant, we have worked hard to build a reputation as one of Connecticut’s premier law firms advocating for accident victims’ rights. We are an exceptional law firm that has been achieving results for our clients for over 30 years. If you have suffered a personal injury or catastrophic injury, call us today at (203) 795-1111 for a free consultation.