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Sexual Assault Personal Injury – An Overview

Sexual assault is generally defined as unlawful sexual activity carried out forcibly or under threat of injury and against the victim’s will. Legally, sexual assault involves not only a crime, but also gives rise to a right to compensation from the perpetrator to the victim. Thus, depending on the circumstances surrounding the assault, a victim may file a civil claim against the perpetrator or a third party, in addition to bringing criminal charges. If you or your child has been sexually assaulted, you must not hesitate to seek legal counsel from a personal injury attorney experienced in sexual assault cases in order to best protect your interests.


Workplace Sexual Assault

A victim of sexual assault that occurred at a workplace may be able to file a third party claim against his or her employer. Depending on the circumstances, several different types of claims may be available. For example, the employer may be liable for negligently maintaining the premises or for creating unsafe or dangerous conditions, such as through inadequate lighting or poorly maintaining locks or security systems. Also, the employer may be liable for creating or permitting a hostile work environment by not controlling the actions of the victim’s superiors or co-workers. Hostile work environment harassment generally exists if unwelcome sexual conduct in the workplace unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive employment environment. Several other factual scenarios may create liability on the employer’s part, such as “quid pro quo harassment,” in which an employee must either accede to sexual demands or forfeit job benefits, lose perks, or otherwise be subject to less favorable working conditions. If you or someone close to you suffered workplace sexual assault, an experienced attorney can help you determine how to proceed.


Sexual Assault of a Minor

If the victim of a sexual assault is a child, the child’s parents may be able to recover monetary damages on the child’s behalf. A parent may be able to bring an action against the child’s assailant or against a negligent establishment, such as a school, store, childcare service, church, security company, or medical institution. If the abuse occurred in a school or as part of a supervised activity intended for children, those responsible for hiring, training or supervising the attacker may be liable for the assault.

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Parents have successfully brought actions on behalf of sexually abused children against school authorities, daycare centers, church authorities, youth camps, youth organizations, negligent relatives, and others who negligently failed to warn and protect the child from abuse or who helped make the abuse possible. In cases where another minor committed the sexual abuse, the attacker’s parents may be liable for negligence. If a child is assaulted in a home, compensation may be available under the homeowner’s policy, and if the child is assaulted in a car, insurance may be available under either a homeowner’s policy or an automobile policy. If your child has been sexually assaulted, it is important that you contact an experienced lawyer immediately so you do not waive valuable legal rights.


Victim’s Financial Concerns

Sexual assault can result in significant expenses for the victim, sometimes totaling into the tens of thousands of dollars. Medical costs may include bills for emergency and ongoing care, prescription drug costs, and other charges. The victim may have large psychotherapy bills for short- or long-term mental health care. A victim may also be absent from work for a lengthy period, resulting in reduced wages or job loss. If the victim is a student, he or she may experience declining grades, which may result in lost tuition, scholarships or financial aid. A sexual assault victim may also need to move, causing further expenses. Family members may also suffer losses as a result. However, if insurance does not cover all of a victim’s actual expenses, other sources may be available. If you have been raped or sexually assaulted and feel overwhelmed by financial worries, contact an expert attorney to help you obtain any financial assistance or compensation available to you.


What to Do If You Are a Victim

If you have survived a sexual assault or rape, you understand the horror and shame of the experience. Surviving the ordeal may be only the first step in dealing with long-lasting emotional trauma. However, there are many ways to start the recovery process. In the legal system, in addition to a criminal case against the assailant, you can also seek monetary damages through a civil lawsuit against your attacker. Further, third parties like the assailant’s employer or the property manager of the scene of the assault might have some legal responsibility for the incident, entitling the victim to additional financial recovery. These civil remedies are available even if there is no criminal case or if the assailant is acquitted at trial; civil cases require a lower standard of proof. If you are a victim of sexual assault, read on to learn how you can protect your legal rights from the beginning so that the criminal and civil legal process have the best chances of success. If you, your child or other loved one has been the victim of a sexual assault, preserve all evidence, call the police, get immediate medical attention, and contact an experienced law firm immediately.


Sexual Assault PI Resource Links

Office on Violence against Women
The Office on Violence against Women handles the U.S. Department of Justice’s legal and policy issues regarding violence against women and responds to requests for information regarding violence against women. This site provides much information about sexual assault and provides links to other informative sites and state administering agencies, among other things.

National Sexual Violence Resource Center
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) provides a searchable database of information, statistics, and resources related to sexual violence. Although intended as a resource for coalitions, rape crisis centers, and national, state and local agencies, the information is easily accessible and informative.

Calculation of Damages in Sexual Abuse Cases
This article, entitled “The Calculation of Damages in Sexual Abuse Cases,” contains an overview of literature on sexual abuse, focusing on the impacts of abuse on psychological well-being, education and standard of living.