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Victims of Crime Can Sue Perpetrators

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Washington, DCMany American citizens who have been the victim of a crime may not be aware they have a right to sue the perpetrator of that crime.

“Everyone who has been the victim of a crime has a right to pursue litigation,” says Jeffrey Dion, the Deputy Executive Director of the National Center for Victims of Crime.

They also may not be aware that the National Center for Victims of Crime is a powerful organization, headquartered in Washington, DC, and is standing ready to help victims of crime through the process of launching civil litigation with the goal of making a financial recovery.

Who can pursue justice and compensation through litigation?

“We deal with all types of claims, domestic violence victims, violent crime victims, traffic victims, drunk driving victims, victims of identity theft, sexual assault victims, people whose loved ones were murdered, victims of security fraud, victims of revenge crimes, all of these qualify,” he adds.

“Every victim has a tort claim. If they were harmed and there is someone responsible for that harm, they have a claim,” says Dion.

Founded in 1985, the organization has consistently worked to make elected officials, judges, educators, law enforcement, business leaders and policy makers understand that holding offenders accountable for the physical, emotional and financial consequences of their crimes is also part of the justice process.

A strong advocate

A passionate advocate for the center and its resources, Dion understands the issues all too well. His own sister was murdered by a serial rapist in the laundry room of her apartment building in Atlanta, Georgia, at the age of 23. Only by pressing police for information did he discover that the property managers were aware that other women had been assaulted in the same laundry room.

He was determined to see justice for victims of crime and has successfully lobbied the Virginia General Assembly, resulting in 13 victims’ rights bills being enacted into law.

OJ and the Goldman family

One of the most high profile civil suits brought against a perpetrator of crime involved the family of Ronald Goldman, the young man who was murdered along with Nicole Simpson in the infamous OJ Simpson murder trial case.

As in the OJ Simpson case, the person charged with the crime need not be found guilty for a crime victim, or his or her family, to pursue justice and obtain a financial recovery in a civil case, as the Goldman family successfully did.

There are some challenges to these types of civil cases, advises Dion. The family or the victim has already suffered an injury and likely been through a criminal trial. Taking on the justice system again can be difficult, but as Dion says, it is important.

“There are so many benefits that the civil justice system offers,” says Dion. “It offers them indemnification, it offers them the chance to have their day in court, it offers them accountability where the people who are responsible whether through negligence or intentionally are held directly accountable for the harm that was suffered.”

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