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Can the Victim of Sexual Assault File a Civil Lawsuit?

Sexual assault is a crime that generally carries significant penalties, which often includes an extended term of incarceration. Criminal prosecution may not be the only remedy available to a person who is the victim of a sexual assault. A victim of this type of crime can file a lawsuit against the perpetrator as well. The following information outlines some key facts associated with sexual assault claims.

Is Criminal Prosecution Necessary for a Civil Lawsuit?

One misconception associated with a sexual assault lawsuit is that there must be a criminal prosecution of the perpetrator before this type of litigation can commence. Moreover, even if there is a criminal prosecution and the perpetrator happens to be found not guilty, a civil lawsuit can still proceed. The legal standards associated with criminal prosecution and a civil lawsuit are different. In order to convict a person of a crime, that individual must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. On the other hand, to win a lawsuit, a person need only demonstrate by a preponderance of evidence that the facts alleged are more likely than not to be true.


Compensation for Losses from a Sexual Assault

Sexual assault represents one of the most horrific experiences a person can be forced to endure. A person who is sexually assaulted may suffer an array of different injuries and damages, all of which will likely be subject to compensation through a settlement or judgment in a lawsuit. Types of compensation may include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Medical expenses

The types of compensation a sexual assault victim can seek in a lawsuit depends upon the specific facts of the case. These facts include not only the nature of the assault itself, but also the circumstances of the victim and the perpetrator.


Multiple Defendants

In some cases, multiple individuals or entities may be included as defendants in a sexual assault lawsuit. Usually, those named as a defendant and as a perpetrator in a sexual lawsuit depends on the facts and circumstances of the case. For example, if the assault occurred at a place of business where the perpetrator worked, the business itself may be an appropriate defendant in a civil lawsuit. If the victim was a patient in a hospital when the assault occurred, the facility may be named as a defendant.


Statute of Limitations

Keep in mind that all states have a statute of limitations, which are laws that govern the time period within which a certain type of lawsuit can be filed. The failure to file a sexual assault lawsuit by the established deadline may result in a victim being precluded from pursuing a case in court to obtain compensation for losses and damages. This reality demonstrates the importance of being proactive after a sexual assault occurs, which may include hiring a qualified, experienced DC personal injury lawyer to provide representation in a civil lawsuit.


Seeking Legal Representation

Our firm represents individuals in personal injury cases. A sexual assault is a horrendous crime and is considered to be a type of personal injury case. The process of retaining an attorney in a sexual assault case can begin by scheduling an initial consultation with a member of our legal team. There is no cost associated with this preliminary meeting with an attorney in our firm, so call today to set up a no-obligation consultation.


Thanks to our friends and co-contributors at Cohen & Cohen, P.C. for their added insight on the civil implications of sexual assault.

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