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.
For example, recently, a Maine news report described an incident where a driver slammed into a tree, resulting in three minor occupants’ deaths. The driver was charged with three counts of vehicular manslaughter, reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, and driving to endanger, causing serious bodily injury. The driver posted on social media shortly after the crash, apparently exhibiting zero remorse for his actions. The families of the victims are asking the court to try the driver as an adult. In this case, the criminal restitution may not cover the extent of the victim’s losses, and the families may wish to file a civil lawsuit. Although restitution must be sufficient to fully reimburse each victim for the extent of their economic losses, there are many nuances to the law, and the amount may not cover non-economic losses.
Have You Suffered Injuries Because of Another’s Negligence or Recklessness?
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a Maine car accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates. Our attorneys have extensive experience successfully resolving cases arising from motor vehicle accidents, defective products, premises liability, and medical malpractice. Our attorneys have a comprehensive understanding of the interplay between criminal and civil laws, and we use our knowledge and skills to ensure that our clients obtain the compensation they deserve. Contact our office at 1-800-804-2004 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at our law firm.