Florida Sexual Abuse Attorneys
Victims of sexual abuse often struggle with physical, mental, and emotional injuries. If you or a loved one are grappling with the aftermath of a sexual assault, you may be wondering if you have other options for legal recourse – even if the perpetrator is facing criminal charges. Victims of sexual assault can and do file civil lawsuits against their perpetrators – here is what you need to know.
Types of Damages Available in Civil Lawsuits
There are two avenues for justice after a sexual assault: in criminal court and in civil court. In a criminal trial, a defendant may face prison time and even additional fines. The Civil justice system, on the other hand, allows the victim to pursue their own money damages against the defendant or others who may be responsible. There are three types of damages available to plaintiffs:
- Economic damages provide compensation for the quantifiable costs of the assault. This includes medical bills, any lost wages, plus the ongoing costs of any mental health counseling or therapy.
- Non-economic damages is simply compensation stemming from losses that ar emch more difficult to quantify Victims of sexual abuse will have emotional scars that last a lifetime. Non-economic damages provide monetary compensation for pain, suffering, mental anguish, and any subsequent loss in life quality following an assault.
- Punitive damages are damages that are designed to punish the defendant for their conduct where that conduct is wanton, willful and shows a reckless disregard for the rights of others.
Due to the horrifying nature of these crimes, juries often award high damages for pain and suffering. However, the perpetrator’s personal assets may not be sufficient to cover these damages. In some cases, victims may be able to file a civil action against a third party, in addition to the perpetrator of a crime. Some examples include:
- A college or university, if the incident occurred on campus and as the result of negligent security
- A business or municipal building where the security was not adequate
- An employer who knowingly allowed or failed to prevent an employee from using their position to victimize someone
A personal injury attorney can help you determine who shares responsibility for your injuries.
Taking the Case to Court
There are two legal concepts by which sexual assault victims can gain compensation in civil court. One of the following legal theories generally applies:
- Assault and battery. This action arises from a harmful or offensive contact with the victim.
- Intentional infliction of emotional distress. This applies when someone’s conduct is so extreme and outrageous, that it causes severe emotional distress to another person.
In some cases, you may use evidence from a criminal trial in a civil proceeding, which could make the process easier. However, there is no need for a criminal charge in order to bring a civil claim. Also, it is generally easier to prevail in a civil proceeding, as the standard of proof is much lower. Unlike a criminal trial, which seeks to prove a defendant’s guilt or innocence “beyond a reasonable doubt,” a civil trial seeks to answer if it was “more likely or not” that an incident occurred.
Sexual assault is a traumatic experience, one that can have an impact on every aspect of your life. If you or a loved one has been a victim of sexual assault, and you believe that you have grounds for a civil suit, please contact our office to schedule your free case evaluation today.