My son was accidentally shot by a friend in Philadelphia. What are his legal rights?


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Answer: Under Pennsylvania law, victims in Philadelphia shooting cases are entitled to pursue legal action in both the criminal and civil courts. This is something that no one sits down and ever explains to a shooting victim and their family. In addition, these two cases are totally independent of each other. In general, the outcome of a criminal shooting case has no bearing on a civil shooting case and vice versa.

Related: Shootings and Assaults – Civil Lawsuits in Pennsylvania

Criminal Legal Rights – Perpetrator is Punished

In a criminal case, the object is to punish the defendant, or individual who committed a crime. In a criminal shooting case, the local prosecuting office (District Attorney) will file charges against a defendant. The victim is basically a witness in the case, not a party. The case is resolved by way of a plea deal, or if the defendant elects, a trial. Ultimately, the sentence is decided by a judge. Although in a plea, the defendant and the prosecutor will come to an agreement about the sentence. As part of the sentence, the defendant may be ordered to pay financial restitution to the victim, but this is usually limited to medical bills and related medical expenses. Restitution does not include compensation for pain and suffering.

Civil Legal Rights – Victim Receives Financial Compensation

Basically in a criminal case, the end result (punishment of the defendant) is out of the victim’s hands. However, in a civil case, the victim gets to have the final say in whether the case settles or resolves and how much it settles for. This is one of the benefits of civil lawsuits, especially ones involving crimes; victims are empowered and retain control over the outcomes.

Victims in civil shooting lawsuits in Philadelphia can receive financial compensation for financial losses such as medical bills and time lost from work. In addition, victims can also receive compensation for pain and suffering, i.e., the physical pain and mental/emotional trauma of the crime and resulting injuries.

More: Negligent Security Lawsuits in Pennsylvania – Punitive Damages

Statute of Limitations Concerns in Shootings Involving Minors

Minors who are injured in accidental shootings in Philadelphia must be aware of Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations. Minors may not be direct parties in a lawsuit in Pennsylvania. Therefore, if a legal guardian or parent brings a lawsuit on behalf of their minor child, the lawsuit must be filed within 2 years of the date of the incident. Otherwise, a minor may bring their own lawsuit against the at-fault party, and the statute of limitations in this scenario is two years after they turn 18.

Statute of limitations issues are very complex. If you have questions about the statute of limitations in your shooting case, you must speak to an injury lawyer immediately.

Civil Lawyers for Assaults & Shootings in Philadelphia

Our accident-injury law firm is based in Philadelphia. For a free case review, please call Click To Call.

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