Restitution and Personal Injury Settlements
In People v. Stanley, the Colorado Court of Appeals determined whether a defendant in a criminal case (Stanley) should be entitled to a reduction in the restitution he was ordered to pay the victim after Stanley’s automobile insurance carrier also paid the victim $25,000 in insurance proceeds.
After Stanley pled guilty to felony vehicular assault, driving under the influence, and careless driving, the prosecution requested restitution for $30,000 paid to the victim by the Crime Victim Compensation Program (CVCP). The $30,000 in restitution was for economic damages caused by Stanley’s criminal conduct. The trial court reduced the $30,000 restitution claim by $25,000 to reflect what Stanley’s auto insurance company also paid the victim in exchange for a full and final release of all civil claims. The trial court ordered Stanley to pay restitution for $5000.
On appeal, the prosecution claimed that Stanley should not be entitled to a set off for the amount of the settlement funds, because the settlement funds were not designated for any specific damages and did not result in Stanley making duplicate payments for the victim’s damages.
The Court of Appeals upheld Stanley’s right to a reduced amount of restitution based on the amounts his insurance company paid to the victim. However, the case was sent back to the trial court so that the prosecution could show that the victim was not doubly compensated for the same damages from the settlement proceeds and the CVCP payments. The prosecution could show that the victim has not been doubly compensated by showing that the victim utilized or allocated the settlement proceeds for elements of damages (such as pain and suffering, disfigurement, or other economic damages not compensated by the CVCP) that were not covered by the CVCP payments and covered by the restitution order. In coming to that outcome of the case, the Court of Appeals relied heavily on the fact that the funds provided by the civil settlement were not allocated to any particular losses suffered by the victim.
Many plaintiffs have questions about whether and how to respond to requests from prosecutors and victims’ advocates to establish the amounts a defendant should pay for restitution. As experienced personal injury attorneys, we advise accident victims on the various sources of recovery available to the victim and coordinate those sources to produce the best outcome for our clients. If you or a loved one have been injured in an auto accident and have questions about how to get compensated for your losses, contact Mintz Law Firm for a free case consultation.