A lot of people don’t know this, but victims of crime, especially violent felonies, have the right to seek restitution from offenders. Here in Georgia, the State Board of Pardons and Paroles has this to say on the matter: “Restitution is court ordered monetary compensation for crime victims. A legitimate order for restitution is applied during the sentencing of an offender and the amount and manner of payment is determined by the courts.”
Restitution pays for a crime victim’s economic damages, such as:
- Medical bills
- Property damage
- Lost property
- Lost income
Restitution is NOT the same as a civil lawsuit (personal injury). It can only recover money for a victim’s non-economic damages. Unlike a civil lawsuit, restitution cannot provide compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and punitive damages.
However, a crime victim can ask the court for restitution and file a civil lawsuit against the offender. With a civil lawsuit, the victim or plaintiff can sue for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and emotional distress, etc.
“Can I collect twice for a specific loss, like medical bills?” No, you cannot. For example, if your medical bills are covered in a restitution order, you cannot collect twice for them by also filing a personal injury lawsuit. Generally, a crime victim’s personal injury lawsuit is reduced by the amount of the restitution order made by the court.
Time Limit for Filing a Civil Lawsuit in Georgia
All states have a “statute of limitations” or deadline for filing a civil lawsuit. In Georgia, injured parties must file a personal injury claim within two years of the date of accident under Section 9-3-33 of the Georgia Code, with limited exceptions.
If you were a victim of a crime, you may be entitled to court-ordered restitution, but you may also have grounds to sue the perpetrator in civil court to collect additional compensation. Or, you may have grounds to file a premises liability claim depending on where the incident occurred.
At Jones & Swanson, we do not represent civil cases, only personal injury. However, our decades of experience has built a vast network of professional legal contacts we can refer out to. To discuss the details of your case and explore your legal options, contact our Smyrna personal injury law firm to schedule a free case evaluation.