April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and with the viral phenomenon that is the “Me Too” movement (aka #MeToo) in full swing, in addition to the high-profile cases of sexual misconduct surrounding major celebrities such as Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby, it feels timely to have a discussion regarding the possible legal options surrounding an incident of sexual assault, harassment or other misconduct. Here are the facts surrounding civil actions in response to sexual assault.
The Benefits of Civil Suit Versus Criminal Prosecution
While just about everyone knows that incidents of sexual assault can result in criminal prosecution in which the offender may face jail time, fines, probation and other penalties, not everyone realizes that a civil lawsuit is the only way for victims of sexual assault to get monetary compensation for the physical and emotional trauma they have suffered. At the same time, a successful civil case can help many victims of sexual assault feel a sense of vindication and closure for the trauma they have suffered.
The biggest advantage that victims of sexual assault have in a civil case is that the legal standard of proof is very different as compared with a criminal case. A criminal offense almost always need to be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt,” while civil cases are generally proved by a lower standard of proof such as “the preponderance of the evidence” (which basically means that it’s more likely that not that an offense occurred). This means it is much easier for plaintiffs (i.e., the victims) to win a civil case. In fact, even if the defendant has been acquitted of criminal charges, they can still lose a civil case – just look at the O.J. Simpson case for proof of that.
Other Parties May Be Held Accountable in Civil Cases
In addition to bringing a civil action against just the perpetrator, you may be able to hold other parties accountable for your sexual assault, harassment or misconduct. An obvious example that we use a lot is that of property owners who unintentionally furnish the setting in which the crime against you occurred.
However, there are many more examples. Victims of clerical sexual abuse have grounds to sue not only the clergy member who assaulted them, but also the church and its governing entities. In the case of abuse at the hands of a medical practitioner – be it a nurse, doctor, or even a caregiver at a nursing home – the victim has grounds to sue the hospital, doctor’s office or nursing home.
These are just a few examples, and the list goes on: businesses, schools – essentially any entity which can be found liable based on a claim of negligent supervision or failure to provide adequate security can be held accountable.
At GreeningLaw P.C., we understand that victims of sexual assault face incredible challenges, both physically and emotionally. Our experienced attorneys care about you and your outcome, and we will treat your case with the same respect and thoroughness with which we would 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. 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 work to make sure you are properly compensated for your suffering. We are here to help.
At GreeningLaw, P.C. we fight the legal battle so you have time for healing and renewal.