All laws seek to define the boundaries of acceptable behavior. They identify
and define wrongful acts so that citizens are on notice of what society
finds abhorrent. Our
experienced Poughkeepsie personal injury attorneys seek to inform you that there are important distinctions between crimes
and torts despite the commonalities noted above.
One notable difference is the types of punishments available for torts
versus crimes. Crimes are punishable in part by incarcerating the wrongdoer.
Incarceration is a very serious punishment because it takes away a person’s
freedom. Only one entity has the power to infringe upon one’s freedom
and that entity is the government. Crimes are punishable by incarceration
not just because an offender stole money, or physically harmed someone.
It is because society as a whole is threatened when crimes occur. So the
government steps in for the victim and prosecutes the offender. While
this serves to punish, deter, and maintain civil society, it does not
entirely repair what was done to the victim.
Tort law is where victims can seek
personal compensation for their injuries and damages. Tort law provides a remedy to restore victims to the place in which they
were prior to the wrongdoing; it makes them whole again. Therefore, tort
law is victim focused and restorative, while criminal law is offender
focused and punitive.
By way of example, consider a street mugging to illustrate the above. Being
physically accosted and robbed of your money is abhorrent to our society.
When this happens, the government steps in and seeks out the wrong doer.
Victims do not have to worry about doing this on their own. The District
Attorney’s office will prosecute and seek the wrongdoer’s
While this is good for society, the victim may still be left without the
return of his property. Therefore, tort law allows the victim to take
action against the offender by suing for compensation in civil court alleging
that a tort was violated, stating his or her loses, and asking the court
for monetary compensation.
Since this example makes a connection between
torts and crimes, another distinction must be made. Quite often when crimes are committed,
a tort is committed as well. But sometimes only criminal prosecution is
available. On the other hand, committing a tort does not necessarily mean
a crime was committed; negligence for example does not automatically indicate
a crime was committed.
With all that said, there are some similarities as well. Both
tort and criminal law seek to preserve society by punishing wrongdoers in an orderly and fair
process, discouraging vengeance and retaliation through self help. In
addition to enforcement of laws, punishment helps deter future wrongful acts.
Learn more about intentional torts and their liability, types of torts,
and how to receive compensation in
our article here. Read about what intentional torts are
in our blog post available here.
Our personal injury attorneys at
Mainetti, Mainetti, and O’Connor, P.C. have over 100 years of combined experience working with victims of personal
injury accidents throughout New York. We understand how to effectively
represent clients who have been injured in serious car accidents, particularly
throughout the Mid-Hudson Valley region in Kingston, Poughkeepsie, and
Newburgh where we have offices. Hear
what our clients are saying about us here and learn about just some of our
successful results here. If you or a loved one has been injured in a personal injury accident,
please do not hesitate to contact us by calling 845-340-HURT (4878) or
toll free at 866-440-4452, or by using the
convenient contact form here.