Under Maine law, an individual who suffers injuries because of another’s negligence or reckless conduct may hold at-fault parties or entities responsible for their damages. In some cases, the other party may be responsible under both civil and criminal statutes. Generally, tort or civil claims involve situations where one or more parties’ negligence directly or proximately causes personal damages to another person. Whereas criminal conduct involves a wrong committed against society, in general. The difference between this conduct generally involves the method of wrongdoing, the actor’s intent, and the effect on society. However, in some cases, a tort activity may involve criminal conduct. In either case, a victim may be entitled to damages through civil awards or court-ordered restitution.
Court-ordered restitution is “monetary reimbursement ordered at the offender’s sentencing.” This reimbursement may include a combination of monetary compensation or services by an offender to the victim of a crime and the economic loss caused by the crime. Under the law, criminal courts cannot impose restitution for pain and suffering. In cases where restitution is a condition of an offender’s probation, a probation officer will monitor compliance. Also, the Maine Crime Victims’ Compensation Program may provide additional compensation for a victim’s expenses.
Victims must understand that criminal restitution does not negate their right to civil damages. Court-ordered restitution and civil damages serve different purposes. Victims who seek compensation through the civil system do not need to establish that the victim was guilty through the criminal system. Restitution is designed to rehabilitate the offender and deter future criminal behavior. In contrast, a civil judgment is aimed at compensating the plaintiff for their losses. Although civil plaintiffs can recover through restitution, this does not always cover the extent of the victims’ losses.