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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 92224 Find in a Library
Title: Victims' Rights - A New Tort? Five Years Later
Journal: Trial  Volume:19  Issue:12  Dated:(December 1983)  Pages:50-53,95-96
Author(s): F Carrington
Date Published: 1983
Page Count: 6
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Verdicts, settlements, and awards to crime-victim/plaintiffs against third parties whose negligence, or gross negligence, caused the injury are becoming increasingly common. Victims' rights litigation has developed into a separate speciality in the field of personal injury law.
Abstract: In many third-party victims' actions, the litigator confronts three legal doctrines militating against recovery. Two of these doctrines apply almost exclusively to victims' rights. The first is the 'duty-at-large' rule, which holds, in cases in which victims are suing law enforcement and correctional officials for failure to protect them from or to prevent crimes, that such officials have a duty to protect or prevent that runs only to the public at large and not to individual plaintiffs. Second, in third-party cases against private persons (landlords, employers, etc.), victims' attorneys encounter the 'intervening and superseding force' doctrine, which holds that the criminal act of a third person insulates the defendant from liability. The third hindrance is sovereign immunity, either absolute or qualified, which bars the lawsuit completely. However, while most courts still adhere to the traditionalist view that third-party victims' rights lawsuits should be the exception rather than the rule, a growing number of courts are taking a flexible, victim-oriented approach to third-party lawsuits. A number of courts have found for victims in third-party actions by designating exceptions to, or even overruling, the common-law doctrines of nonliability. These cases should be carefully studied and fostered by the personal injury bar. The Victims Assistance Legal Organization, which serves as a clearinghouse of legal information for victims' attorneys, has contacted hundreds of lawyers who have furnished information about their cases for dissemination to others with similar cases. Specific cases are cited in which the courts have found in favor of victims against third parties. A total of 25 references are supplied.
Index Term(s): Attorneys; Lawsuits; Victim compensation; Victims rights
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