Victims of violent assaults may find themselves reeling, both physically and emotionally, struggling to overcome the trauma. While the criminal justice system may take action to punish the offender, that doesn’t necessarily help the victim and the expenses they have incurred – the medical bills, the lost wages from time off work, the cost of therapy and other expenses.
In some situations, it can be worthwhile to pursue legal action in civil court. Such action is sometimes taken against the actual attacker (although insurance does not cover intentional acts, so collecting on damages against defendants who aren’t independently wealthy can be tough). More commonly, though, action is taken against third parties. Third parties can be liable for damages to a crime victim if the defendant breached some duty of care owed to plaintiff. For example, property owners may be liable for failing to protect residents and/or guests from conditions that might invite a criminal assault.
In a recent case before the New York Court of Appeals, the question was asked whether a mental health facility could be liable for injuries sustained in a criminal attack carried out by an adult male patient who had recently been discharged. Plaintiff alleged the facility was negligent in discharging the man, and if it had held him longer, the attack could have been avoided. Continue reading