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Sexual Assault PI

Actions Against Sexual Assault

With offices in Miami and across Florida, the law firm of Bernstein & Maryanoff has the resources and experience to take on the largest sexual abuse and assault cases. The firm’s attorneys and staff are dedicated to helping each client pursue the maximum compensation for their losses.

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.

Action Against Assailant

If a victim suffers damages arising out of a sexual assault, he or she may bring several different claims in a civil action against his or her assailant. In addition to claims of sexual assault, an action against the perpetrator may include battery, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, libel, slander, stalking, negligent transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, or wrongful death claims. Although the action is brought in court, the victim may choose to negotiate a settlement out of court. Unlike some criminal charges, the decision to begin a civil suit is the victim’s choice.

Many assailants settle lawsuits against them for damages, but if no settlement is reached at this point, the formal lawsuit begins when the plaintiff’s lawyer files documents at the local courthouse and serves the complaint on the perpetrator. Each side then assesses the other’s position, and the attorneys will question both the victim and the assailant. The victim can have his or her lawyer present at the questioning.

It is easier to prevail in a civil case than in a criminal matter, because in a civil case, the plaintiff’s attorney need only convince the judge or jury that his or her version of the facts is more “likely than not” rather than “beyond a reasonable doubt.” As a result, many defendants settle out of court, rather than risking a large money judgment and a public trial. Only an experienced personal injury attorney can assist a victim in assessing whether he or she should accept a proposed settlement offer.

Third Party Actions

Under some circumstances, a victim may file an action against a third party liable for the sexual assault. Such actions are generally based on negligence, and the plaintiff must establish that the defendant owed a legal duty to the plaintiff, that the duty was breached, that the plaintiff suffered damages, and that the defendant’s breach caused the damages.

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Causes of action against a third party might include premises liability, dramshop actions, parents’ negligent failure to supervise their children, parents’ vicarious liability for their children’s acts, the negligent failure to supervise employees, and other hostile work environment actions. In some cases, the third party’s insurance may cover the claim.

Defenses

An assailant and a third party have various defenses that may be interposed in civil actions filed by sexual assault victims against perpetrators and third parties. These defenses vary from state to state, but generally may include an assertion that the claim was brought too late, comparative fault applications, intoxication, and failure to prove the elements of the claim.

Conclusion

Although criminal prosecution may hold sexual assault perpetrators accountable, deter them from committing future crimes, and provide victims with some restitution, a civil action may more completely compensate the victim for the physical and psychological injuries caused by the assault. If you have been a victim of sexual assault, do not hesitate to call upon personal injury attorneys who are skilled and experienced in sexual assault cases to assess your situation and determine whether a civil action might be available to compensate you for the damages you suffered.

DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.