Sexual assault is a crime that destroys lives, and not just that of the victim. Often the victim’s spouse, children, parents and other family members suffer emotional trauma as well. However, gaining a conviction against an assailant for sexual abuse can be difficult — proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is often a problem. Proving lack of consent is another obstacle.
Some victims of this vicious crime may not know it’s possible to seek civil damages against the person who committed the assault, against a third party who enabled the attack and even against a landlord, hospital or school if proper safety precautions were not in place when the assault occurred. Lesser charges that are easier to prove are often the best option for someone whose criminal case is proving difficult to pursue. They’re also the best way to seek monetary compensation toward future medical bills and for emotional trauma.
Suing the Assailant
Filing a claim against the person accused of the assault is possible whether they were criminally charged and convicted, charged and acquitted, or never charged at all. Even an assailant found innocent may still later be found at-fault in a civil suit. Classic charges pursued against an assailant in a case of this type include the lesser charges of battery, false imprisonment, assault, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Any one or all of these may be easier to prove than sexual assault, and if won, may give the victim a feeling of empowerment over the future. Cases of this kind also act as deterrents toward future criminal behavior. They are also more likely to award the victim monetary compensation.
It’s important to note, however, that being awarded compensation isn’t always the same thing as collecting it. Unless the losing party has a wealth of assets, recovering restitution in cases like these may be difficult.
Suing a Third Party
If faulty outdoor lighting, broken door or window locks, or other extenuating circumstances contributed to the assault, it may be possible to bring suit against the person or corporation responsible for maintaining them. This could be a landlord, an employer, or even a family member. If a company failed to weed out an offender due to a skipped background check, for instance, or if an employer failed to provide a safe work environment, this may make them liable for restitution under a negligent supervision claim.
To prove negligent supervision, four circumstances must have occurred: First, the person held accountable must have been in a position of responsibility to keep the claimant safe. Secondly, he or she must have failed at that responsibility. Next, the claimant must have suffered damages as a result. And lastly, the assault had to be foreseeable — meaning a reasonable person could have predicted the assault might occur. If all four instances can be proven, a finding of negligent supervision could be given and compensation awarded.
Suing on Behalf of the Spouse
When someone is the victim of a sexual assault, the spouse typically suffers too in a sort of ripple effect. Loss of sexual intimacy, anger, resentment and even fear often enter into a relationship where one partner has suffered sexual abuse. And in some instances it may be possible to file for emotional distress on the spouse’s behalf. In this situation, medical professionals are often called to the stand to attest to the degree of emotional trauma inflicted. Depending upon the severity of damage and the length of time it may take the spouse to fully recover, punitive damages in cases like these are often quite high.
If you wish to pursue a civil suit for damages occurring during a sexual assault, we can help. If you take the time to fill out our free case evaluation form, or if you call our law firm today, our experienced and considerate professionals will guide you through the process. You need someone on your side when it’s time to seek compensation for damages from sexual assault, and our knowledgeable attorneys are ready and waiting to take your call. Don’t let fear or shame prevent you from seeking the justice you deserve, contact our law office today, and we’ll tell you everything you need to know about winning your case.