Sexual assault is one of the most heinous crimes imaginable. It can ruin someone’s life and interpersonal relationships, cause them to withdraw from society, and leave permanent physical and emotional scars.
In addition to criminal charges, victims of sexual assault can (and often do) press civil charges against the perpetrator, and due to the grievous/glaring nature of sexual assaults, juries will often award very high damages. Unfortunately, if the defendant isn’t particularly wealthy it may be difficult, if not impossible, to collect on those damages.
What many people don’t realize, however, is that when a sexual assault occurs in any kind of institution (e.g., schools, daycares, hospitals, churches, etc.), that institution can be held responsible based on a claim of negligent supervision or a failure to provide adequate security.
Proving a Case in Civil Court
When it comes time to prove the defendant is responsible for the sexual assault, you have several advantages in a civil court case compared to a criminal case. First, if there was a criminal prosecution and the defendant was convicted you may be able to use a complex legal rule known as “collateral estoppel.” This rule may entitle you to bring evidence that a jury in a criminal case already found the defendant guilty of the offense.
Even if you didn’t bring a criminal case or the defendant was not convicted in a criminal court, there are still major advantages to bringing a civil case against the alleged perpetrator. One advantage is that the defendant is not guaranteed legal representation in a civil case. This means they either have to retain their own legal counsel or represent themselves.
The biggest advantage is the reduced burden of proof in civil cases. While many people know that a defendant in a criminal case must be found guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” not everyone realizes that to find a person guilty in a civil action, the plaintiff only has to prove their case “by a preponderance of the evidence.”
While that may seem like a bunch of legalese, it has profound implications for civil cases. What it basically means is that the judge or jury has heard the evidence and finds it more likely than not that an offense occurred. In fact, even is the defendant has been acquitted of criminal charges because the case did not meet the burden of proof, they can still be found guilty in a civil case.
At GreeningLaw P.C., we know that victims of sexual assault face daunting physical and emotional challenges, and we are here to help. Our experienced, compassionate team of attorneys care about every party we represent, and we will treat your case with the same respect, tenacity and attention to detail we would afford our own families.
GreeningLaw P.C. works on a contingency basis, meaning you don’t pay for anything unless you receive compensation for your case. If you have been the victim of sexual assault, harassment or other misconduct, please contact us for a free consultation. We will review the elements of your case, discuss the possible compensation you may receive, and suggest the best course of action.
As one of the most recognized personal injury law firms in the state, we know how to ensure you are properly compensated for your suffering.
We fight the legal battle so you have time for healing and renewal.