Can Criminals Sue Their Victims For Injuries Sustained During Their Crime?

Lawsuits brought by criminals against their victims are relatively rare, but they do seem to pop up in the news now and again. The extent to which a crime victim has immunity from a civil lawsuit differs from state to state, but most states recognize that victims should not be given carte blanche to attack their assailants under any circumstance. In this regard, Utah’s civil immunity statute has always been very protective of the victim. In 2012, the statute was amended to offer even greater protection. 

Pre-amendment

Before the amendment, a person could recover from the victim of a crime for personal injury or property damage only if one of the following exceptions applied: 

  • It was proven that the person’s actions did not constitute a felony and the person’s culpability was less than that of the victim’s. 
  • The person was clearly retreating from the criminal activity. 

Post-amendment

In 2012, the first exception in Utah’s civil immunity statute was amended to state that the injured person must prove that he wasn't committing any crime when injured, not just a felony. This subtle yet important change significantly expanded the burden of proof that an assailant must meet to be able to sue the victim. The second exception for clearly retreating criminals was not amended and continues to keep the door open to claims regarding overly aggressive and retaliatory actions by crime victims. 

If you’ve been charged with a crime and have suffered injuries related to the incident, it is in your best interest to consult a skilled and knowledgeable law firm that has expertise in both personal injury and criminal law. The attorneys at Larsen, Larsen, Nash & Larsen will help you fight for your rights to the fullest extent of the law.

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