Personal Injury Law


Can the same conduct form the basis for both a crime and a tort?

Absolutely. If you punch another person in the face, you can be charged with criminal assault and battery by the state or local government. Likewise, the victim (the person you punched) also can sue you for damages in court in a tort action. A famous example concerns the two trials involving former football great Orenthal James (O.J.) Simpson. In 1995, a jury acquitted Simpson for the murders of his former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her companion Ronald Goldman.

However, the families of the victims then sued Simpson for the tort action of wrongful death. They prevailed in civil court—perhaps because of the lower standard of proof—and won a substantial monetary judgment against Simpson. The difference was that the civil tort suit led to a monetary judgment but no prison sentence.


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