Crime Victim Compensation – Can You Collect?
If you were the victim of a crime that took place on someone else’s property, you may be eligible for compensation. You may be able to collect compensation for medical bills, emotional distress and more. To be eligible for crime victim compensation, you have to be able to prove your “status” as a plaintiff.
Crime Victim Compensation – The Status of the Plaintiff
The status of the plaintiff refers to your why you were on the property when the crime occurred. There are three basic categories for a person’s “Status”:
Determining status determines what type of care a property owner must give you. The amount of compensation, if any, that is available to you is calculated based on those facts.
The first status is that of a trespasser. A trespasser is someone who enters the property without the property owner’s consent. Because they have no right to be on the property, the owner does not have to show a high duty of care to this type of visitor. In fact, some courts have held that a trespasser injured on someone else’s property as the result of a third-party crime has no right to collect.
Generally, the only things that landowners owe trespassers is to not add traps or other things to the property that would intentionally harm the trespasser.
However, if a person is a known trespasser and the property owner fails to take steps to stop the continued trespassing or warn of known dangers, that trespasser could have his or her status elevated to that of a licensee.
Next is the status of a licensee. A licensee is someone who has a legal right to be on the property. They may have the owner’s consent to be on the property. This is someone like a social guest.
Some jurisdictions separate licensees into different subcategories, such as invited licensees and uninvited licensees. Uninvited licensees are usually individuals who come onto the property for their own purposes.
A property owner’s duty to these individuals is to warn them against known dangers that are not obvious to them to prevent injury.
Some jurisdictions do not allow licensees to bring forth third-party claims. This occurs when the party that commits the crime is outside the control of the property owner. Most courts have diluted the distinctions between licensees and invitees, as the same standards generally apply.
And finally, the invitee. An invitee is someone who the property owner invites onto the property. This is usually for the economic gain or other benefit of the owner, such as a customer in a store.
Like licensees, invitees may be classified into subcategories.
- Public Invitees – Those who enter the land as a member of the public for the reason the property is provided to the public. This would be like a customer at Home Depot, my office, any place that is open for business and the public is invited to come in.
- Business Invitees – Those invited onto the property in connection with the business purpose. This would be the plumber coming into the contractor’s supply house or the truck driver coming into the rear of store for loading or unloading, generally, there as a result of the business relationship.
Since the owner benefits from of having such visitors on his or her property, these individuals are often owed the greatest duty of care.
In addition to status, there is one other question that requires determination for crime victim compensation. That is the question of foreseeability, or was the injury was foreseeable.
The foreseeable nature of the crime is often a matter of assessing the particular facts involved in the case.
The plaintiff may argue that the crime was foreseeable if the business is in a high-crime area or if a similar event happened at the business.
Some jurisdictions use a liberal assessment of determining foreseeability. Others require more of a connection between the crimes. A connection between the time, place and manner of the crimes committed at or near the business in the past. This usually requires you show that the crime committed against you was similar to other crimes committed.
If a crime victims shows that the property owner is liable for the injuries, they have a case for crime victim compensation. In many cases they can seek damages for, but not limited to:
- medical bills
- lost wages
- emotional distress
- pain and suffering
The cases, also know as Premises liability cases, may require the help of a personal injury lawyer. As a personal injury attorney in Jacksonville we are knowledgeable about the particular rules and procedures in the Jacksonville and North Florida jurisdictions. We can guide you from the beginning and make sure that you meet the guidelines and time table required in these types of cases. If you are outside of our area, I recommend seeking help from a personal injury attorney in your area. Like other personal injury cases, Premises Liability cases are contingency based, so you do not have to put money up front.
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