A person who has been the victim of a sexual assault has the right to bring a civil suit against his or her attacker in court for the damages suffered. Note that this is a completely separate process from a criminal case for sexual assault, which we will explain further below, and a civil suit can be brought regardless of whether a criminal charge was brought. In a civil suit, the plaintiff is seeking monetary damages from the attacker, which raises the question of how the victim’s financial recovery or “compensation” will be determined. Note that, when the sexual assault is perpetrated by a person acting in this scope of employment (e.g. a teacher, supervisor or boss, clergy person, etc.), the employer may be liable for paying damages as well. Below are the primary aspects of a sexual assault victim’s financial recovery in a civil suit.
If a victim is injured in an assault, then the perpetrator will be responsible for all medical costs associated with that injury over the victim’s lifetime, including hospital visits, outpatient doctor visits, in-home nursing, and rehabilitation.
Psychiatric Costs and Therapy
Many victims of sexual assault deal with emotional issues that can persist far beyond any physical consequences. Victims are advised to seek out help from psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists to deal with issues such as PTSD and ongoing interpersonal complications. The defendant in a sexual assault case can be made to pay the cost of all such treatment stemming from the incident.
Pain and Suffering
Separate from the financial cost of obtaining therapeutic care is the emotional toll that a sexual assault takes on a victim, which often lasts for years. Of course, it can feel impossible to put a quantifiable dollar amount on the pain and suffering that a victim will face, but your attorney will work with experts and compare your circumstances to other cases in which awards have been made to obtain the maximum financial recovery for the pain and suffering you never asked for but have had to endure.
Time Missed From Work or Reduction in Earning Capability
After a sexual assault, it is not at all unusual for a victim to need time away from the responsibilities of life such as work. This can be a few weeks, or it could be a few months or even years. In other cases, a sexual assault — especially one that happens in the context of a work or school scenario — can result in a victim feeling unable to continue to pursue work in a particular position or even field. Obviously, this means that the victim will suffer further financial damages in the form of missed paychecks and perhaps even lower earnings over the course of his or her lifetime. This is, of course, a financial burden that the victim never asked for and the fault lies squarely with the perpetrator who should be made to pay for these lifetime costs in a settlement or judgment at trial. As with other damages, your attorney will work with medical, psychiatric, and industry experts to present a compelling case for your work/earnings-related damages to the judge and jury.
All of the preceding costs mentioned deal with the actual costs that are forced on a victim as a result of a sexual assault, but, in addition, a defendant in a civil suit for an intentional assault can be held responsible for punitive damages, which are meant to punish the defendant for acting so egregiously and deter other potential defendants from doing the same. In some cases, the punitive damages awarded to an assault victim are the largest part of the victim’s recovery, and it is not uncommon for such awards to reach into the millions of dollars.
Why a Not Guilty Verdict or No Charges Will Not Prevent Your Recovery
It is a mistake to think that it is necessary for a defendant to have been charged criminally in order to bring a civil claim. First of all, the standard for proving guilt in a criminal case is far higher than proving liability in a civil trial. Second, a prosecutor can decline to bring criminal charges for any number of reasons which have nothing to do with your ability to prevail at trial. Talk to an attorney to gauge whether you have the ability to bring a civil suit against an attacker.
Get Help From a Southern California Attorney In Your Sexual Assault Matter
If you have been the victim of a sexual assault, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible to make sure evidence is collected and preserved so that your best case for recovery can be made. The attorneys at The Kaufman Law Firm has consistently won six- and seven-figure verdicts and settlements on behalf of injured victims across Southern California. They will work with you from the moment you call to investigate your matter and build your best possible case for recovery. Contact The Kaufman Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation.