When a loved one is seriously injured or lost as a result of the carelessness or recklessness of another person, corporation, or institution, the whole world appears turned upside down. First, there is the shock, anger, sadness, confusion, and grief. Mentally processing a serious injury or death is difficult and takes time. Along with the emotional ramifications, a deep desire for justice arises. Holding those responsible accountable for their carelessness or recklessness is central to justice. In California, as in every state, accountability, depending on the specific nature of the careless, reckless, or intentionally wrongful act, may be pursued in two contexts – the criminal justice system or the civil justice system. For personal injury or wrongful death victims, pursuing justice in one or both contexts may be a sound course of action.
The Criminal Justice System Holds Wrongdoers Accountable for Their Actions
The criminal justice system, due to its frequent portrayal in film, television, and books, is more familiar to most Americans than its civil counterpart. In the criminal system, an individual is charged with a crime and, if proven guilty, sentenced to punishment by the state. Punishment is most commonly a combination of fines and/or jail time. If a charge and conviction stemming from causation of an injury or death to another person rising to the level of criminal negligence results, then a critical aspect of justice has been served. But what about the other wrongs and the losses flowing from the serious injury or wrongful death? What about medical bills, lost income due to missed work, loss of enjoyment of life – how does imprisoning or fining a careless, reckless, or intentionally wrongdoing actor account for such losses? The answer is that such concerns are not the province of the criminal justice system. Fortunately, however, there is the civil justice system.
The Civil Justice System Allows Victims to Seek Compensation From Wrongdoers
The civil justice system is separate from the criminal justice system. Its concern is not prison time, fines, or community service. Rather, it exists to provide the victims of careless, reckless, or intentional wrongful acts with a means of being made whole. Specifically, the civil system allows the victims of these acts to seek financial compensation from the individuals responsible for their suffering and losses. Such a mechanism accounts for the fact that a personal injury or wrongful death causes not just pain and grief, but also financial losses in the forms of medical bills, lost income, and sometimes a diminished capacity to work or enjoy life’s customary activities.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by the wrongful actions of another, or if you have lost a loved one due to those actions, reach out to a skilled and experienced California personal injury attorney about handling your civil case. A skilled attorney will work to obtain compensation from those responsible for your mistreatment.