The term “hate crime” gets thrown around a great deal in American popular culture. However, this term – and other terms that concern scenarios in which people are targeted and injured because of some immutable characteristic, like race, sex, disability, gender, or national origin – means something specific under the law. If you have suffered injuries because you were targeted or otherwise singled out due to an immutable aspect of your identity, you may be in a strong position to file a civil lawsuit. Many crime victims are also victims of “civil rights injuries” that can be legally actionable in civil court.
Civil vs. Criminal Liability
As an experienced Oregon civil rights injury lawyer – including those who practice at Andersen Morse & Linthorst – can explain in greater detail, the civil justice system and criminal justice system in the U.S. are distinct from one another. This means that the outcomes of civil cases are unaffected by the verdicts in criminal cases and vice versa. In fact, these systems are so distinct that someone can potentially file a successful civil lawsuit even if no criminal lawsuit related to the same conduct has ever been filed. The defendant in a civil case need not have ever even been arrested or formally charged in criminal court to be held accountable in civil court.
The standard of proof in a civil case is far lower than it is in a criminal case. This means that it is generally much easier to secure a favorable result as a plaintiff in a civil case than it is for a prosecutor to secure a guilty verdict in front of a jury. For all these reasons and more, if you are hesitating to explore your civil legal opportunities for recourse because criminal justice events have unfolded in one way or another in regards to the person who harmed you, please don’t waste another day before speaking with an attorney. Simply because the criminal justice system has or has not held the person who hurt you accountable doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to secure a favorable outcome in a civil court case.
Contact an Experienced Civil Rights Injury Firm to Explore Your Options
There are not many law firms that focus their practice on civil rights injuries specifically. However, those that do tend to employ passionate attorneys who are eager to advocate aggressively on behalf of those whose rights have been infringed upon. If you are either uncertain of whether you have grounds to file civil action or you have questions about what filing civil action would entail, connect with an experienced civil rights injury attorney to clarify your situation and learn about any and all opportunities for recourse that may be available to you at this time.
If someone has harmed you as a result of who you are, you should not have to shoulder the financial burdens associated with your injuries. If you are entitled to compensation, a dedicated attorney can help you to fight for it.