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What Is Restitution?

Florida law states that you are responsible for your conduct at all times, and your actions that cause someone else to be injured may make you liable to compensate them for the damages they suffer. This principle is actually carried over into Florida’s criminal laws, where injuries caused by the commission of a crime may subject the offender to pay the victim back as a penalty. This type of compensation is known as restitution.

Those who have been injured as a result of someone else committing a crime may wonder what their rights are. Because the offender is likely to be incarcerated, do you have the ability to sue them? Do you have to wait to get out to do so? Well, thanks to restitution, you don’t necessarily have to. When someone convicted of a criminal offense is ordered to pay you restitution, you don’t even have to worry about filing a suit against them and then battling for justice.

Can I Still Collect Damages?

This brings up another question: what happens when the restitution order isn’t nearly enough to cover the cost of the damages you have suffered as a result of the offender’s actions? Well, there’s some good news: you can still hold them accountable.

Whereas restitution is one of the results of a criminal trial, damages are the result of a civil trial, and they’re part of an entirely different type of law. Restitution is generally ordered for the losses which are easily quantifiable—things like medical bills, rehabilitation, lost income from missed work, and property damage. However, as you might expect this rarely compensates you for the full extent of the damages you sustain as a result of one of these incidents.

Fortunately, there’s good news: you can still file a civil suit against the offender, even if they are ordered to pay restitution! An injury lawsuit is a civil matter, which makes it entirely separate for the offender’s criminal case and doesn’t subject them to “double jeopardy.” This type of arrangement is actually quite common in DUI cases, where the offender’s actions caused an accident that resulted in significant injuries and property damage.

There are a few restrictions to what you can hold the offender liable for, however. First, you can’t hold someone liable for damages that you’ve already recovered as a result of restitution. In other words, you can’t collect for the same loss twice. Second, anything you do recover will likely be reduced based on the amount you’ve already received in restitution.

Let’s look at an example. Say you’re injured when a bank robber in their getaway car collides with you at a high speed. As a result of their conviction, the judge orders them to pay you $50,000 in restitution for your injuries. However, this only covers the cost of your medical bills, much less the rest of the damages you have sustained. As a result, you decide to sue the offender for your injuries. At this point, the judge awards you a total of $250,000 for your case, but they would then most likely reduce the amount to $200,000 because you already received $50,000 in restitution.

If you’ve been awarded restitution but still need assistance filing an injury suit to fully recover damages you have sustained, discuss your case with an experienced Martin County injury lawyer! Call Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC at (866) 675-4427 today!