If you were injured in an incident of assault and battery, here's what you can do to recover.
Don't Rely on the Criminal Justice System
While assault and battery usually result in criminal charges, the criminal justice system doesn't focus on compensating victims. Its main purpose is to put the perpetrator in jail.
Even when criminal cases have restitution ordered, it's rarely as much as you can get in a civil case. The rules for criminal restitution are usually very limited and don't account for all of the damages you're entitled to recover in a civil case.
This doesn't mean that you shouldn't cooperate with the criminal prosecution as a witness. Having someone who assaulted you prosecuted can help you feel a sense of justice. However, if you want the maximum financial compensation, you should also talk to a personal injury lawyer.
Get Any Police Records
Whether or not you participate in the criminal process or the police even bring charges, you should still get any police records of the incident. These can include police reports, body cam video from the officers who responded, and other documents.
Almost anything you can get from the criminal investigation can be used as evidence in a civil claim for personal injury. In fact, the evidence rules for civil cases aren't as strict, so there is often evidence that the criminal prosecutor isn't allowed to use but a personal injury lawyer is.
Some police records are public records that anyone can get by filling out the right paperwork. Other records may require your personal injury lawyer to file a subpoena after you start your civil case.
Use the Same Witnesses
Just like records, you can usually use the same witnesses as in the criminal case. In addition, if someone is unwilling to voluntarily testify, your personal injury lawyer can often subpoena that person so they have to testify in court.
In some criminal cases, the judge or prosecutor might tell you not to talk to the witnesses. These orders are sometimes legally binding and are designed to make sure the criminal trial is fair.
If you're not supposed to talk to witnesses, make sure your personal injury lawyer is aware of any potential witnesses. Lawyers have more freedom to talk to witnesses since they weren't directly involved in what happened and are less likely to try to influence testimony. If needed, your lawyer can also move to have any criminal court orders that are blocking your civil case from proceeding overturned.
Reach out to a personal injury lawyer for more info.
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