Intentional Torts - Civil Lawsuits for Victims of Crime

The criminal justice system is far from perfect.  One of its major flaws is that victims of violent crimes rarely experience closure or a sense of justice, even after a guilty verdict for their attacker. 

The civil justice system is also far from perfect; money does not heal all wounds.          

Nonetheless, victims of violent crimes or sexual abuse may bring civil lawsuits against their attackers in an attempt to win money damages for their physical and emotional injuries.  Such a lawsuit may be appropriate for the victim of sexual assault, a person injured in a bar fight or assault, the surviving family of a person killed in a vehicular homicide, or even murder.

The attorneys practicing at The Harlan Law Firm have developed reputations for taking cases to trial and delivering results for our clients.  Our lawyers have successfully tried hundreds of jury trials and know how to tell a client’s story to a jury effectively and persuasively.  Our confidence and comfort in a courtroom makes us more effective negotiators for our clients – our adversaries understand that we will not accept an unfavorable settlement offer simply to avoid a trial.

We invite you to contact our office to schedule a free consultation if you have questions about whether you should file a civil lawsuit in the aftermath of a criminal offense.  In the meantime, we invite you to consider the following:

  • A police report is an important record that can become a crucial piece of evidence in a later civil lawsuit.  Make sure to be careful and detailed as possible when you talk to police.
  • Document your injuries with medical records and photographs and video if appropriate.  Also keep a journal about your recovery process – both physical and emotional.
  • A guilty verdict is not absolutely necessary for a civil lawsuit to succeed – although it helps.  In a criminal case, the prosecutor must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the defendant committed the crime.  In a civil lawsuit, we must prove “by a preponderance of the evidence” that the attack occurred.  This is an easier evidentiary standard to meet.  Remember O.J. Simpson?  He was found “Not Guilty” for the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman in the criminal trial, but later found “liable” for their deaths in the civil trial.
  • One difficulty with civil lawsuits arising out of criminal offenses is the responsible party’s ability to pay any eventual judgment.  Your attorney will want to conduct an immediate investigation into your attacker’s financial resources – including insurance, real estate, and other financial assets. 

Get Legal advice about a Civil Lawsuit after a Violent Offense

The Harlan Law Firm handles personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis.  This means that our clients pay no legal fees unless and until we recover for them the compensation they deserve. 

If you are seeking legal advice after surviving a criminal offense, contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation.  Call (360) 735-8200 or send an email to: bdh@harlanlaw.net. 

Beau Harlan is a fantastic lawyer. I would recommend him to anyone.

— John Peterson, Criminal Defense Attorney, Vancouver, WA

24-hour hotlines

For DUI:

(360) 949-0269

(360) 600-4239

Personal Injury:

(360) 281-3530

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