Many of my personal injury clients in my Phoenix, Arizona law practice were injured when the "bad guy" committed a crime. In these cases, my clients are considered victims under Arizona law and the Victims' Bill of Rights. This situation frequently occurs when a drunk driver or impaired driver injures someone in an accident. Other times, I represent dog bite victims and the bite dog owner is charged with the crime of allowing their dog to run at large.
The Victims' Bill of Rights provides victims several important rights, that essentially require that a victim be treated with "fairness, respect, and dignity, and to be free from intimidation, harassment, or abuse, throughout the criminal justice process."
Additionally, another provision in Arizona Law does not permit a defendant to deny their guilt in a civil case after they have been convicted.
A.R.S. § 13-807 A defendant who is convicted in a criminal proceeding is precluded from subsequently denying in any civil proceeding brought by the victim or this state against the criminal defendant the essential allegations of the criminal offense of which he was adjudged guilty, including judgments of guilt resulting from no contest pleas. An order of restitution in favor of a person does not preclude that person from bringing a separate civil action and proving in that action damages in excess of the amount of the restitution order that is actually paid.
A criminal violation also often constitutes negligence per se. It is the prevailing rule, recognized in Arizona, that breach of a statute or ordinance intended as a safety regulation is not merely evidence of negligence, but is negligence per se. Brannigan v. Raybuck, 136 Ariz. 513, 667 P.2d 213 (1983); Hutto v. Francisco, 210 Ariz. 88, 107 P.3d 934 (App. 2005) (“negligence per se applies when there has been a violation of a specific requirement of law”); Griffith v. Valley of Sun Recovery and Adjustment Bureau, Inc., 126 Ariz. 227, 229, 613 P.2d 1283, 1285 (App. 1980) (“negligence per se applies when there has been a violation of a specific requirement of a law or an ordinance”); Orlando v. Northcutt, 103 Ariz. 298, 300, 441 P.2d 58, 60 (1968); Alaface v. National Inv. Co., 181 Ariz. 586, 892 P.2d 1375 (App. 1994) (“a person who violates a statute enacted for the protection and safety of the public is guilty of negligence per se.”); W. Prosser, Handbook of the Law of Torts § 36 at 197-200 (4th ed. 1971).
Lastly, in some cases where the defendant is uninsured or otherwise unable to pay a judgment, some help may be available through the Crime Victim Compensation Program. The type of damages covered by the fund include:
- Medical CostsMental Health Counseling (up to $5,000)
- Funerals (up to $10,000)
- Wage Loss / Loss of Support
- Crime Scene Clean-up (up to $2,000)
- Some Transportation Costs (up to $1,500)
Jay Ciulla represents crime victims in car accident, dog bite, personal injury, and wrongful death cases. Call for a free initial consultation - (602) 495-0053.