Sexual crimes are among some of the worst offenses in the criminal justice system. They can be violent and horrific, and the victim often has to live with the emotional and physical scars of the attack for the remainder of their life. While these types of tragedies certainly need to receive justice in a criminal court, the reality is that victims often cannot receive proper compensation unless they file suit in a civil court as well.
Compensation for Damages
The damages in a sexual assault case are almost too numerous to quantify, but the courts have to try to do the best that they can. They do not want to put a price tag on the abuse that the victim has gone through, but they must decide how much that victim will be awarded if anything. This is determined by a number of factors.
The jurisdiction that one files the suit in is the first thing to consider. Different jurisdictions have different rules regarding compensation in sexual assault cases. It is important to have some idea of how the jurisdiction that one seeks to file in handles these types of cases. An experienced DC personal injury lawyer can often help determine which jurisdiction best suits your case’s needs.
Another factor commonly considered is exactly how much damage (emotional and physical) a victim endured through their experience. Once again, this is very hard to put a number on, but the court is responsible to make a good faith effort to do the best that they can.
Suing Others Responsible
In certain cases, the person who committed the sexual assault may not be the only one legally responsible for what took place. Yes, they are the offender who must face the criminal charges, but there could be other parties which have some hand in what happened as well. For example, the place where the assault happened could be a big factor in determining if there are third parties that may be responsible as well. If a sexual assault takes place in a business, school, or church, there is some chance that the venue could be a third party to a civil lawsuit as well.
Proving a Case in Civil Courts
The standard of proof is lower in a civil case than in a criminal case. One simply has to make the case that the defendant was more likely responsible than not responsible for the damages alleged. There is not the same “beyond a responsible doubt” standard that exists in criminal cases.
Getting the Right Lawyer
Retaining an attorney that understands the delicate factors that encompass a civil suit related to sexual assault can go a long way in processing your claim quickly, efficiently, and with as little effect to your recovery as possible. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a sexual assault, it may be in your best to hire a qualified personal injury lawyer today.
Thanks to our friends and co-contributors from Cohen & Cohen, P.C. for their added insight into the civil implications of sexual assault.