Can I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit after a Sexual Assault?
by Arina Smith Legal 19 January 2021
When most of us hear the term sexual assault, we think of the criminal elements of such a traumatic act. But there is also a civil element to sexual assault cases. That means the victim of sexual assault may be able to hold the perpetrator accountable by means of a personal injury claim, or lawsuit. Read on to learn more about how you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit after a sexual assault.
What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault encompasses a range of acts. There is a common misconception that sexual assault and rape are the same things. Actually, rape is just one form of sexual assault. Sexual assault is legally defined as any non-consensual act, including:
- Attempted rape
- Unwanted sexual touching or fondling
- Forcing someone to perform sexual acts
- Penetrating the other person’s body (rape)
There are also some definitions that fall under individual state laws that may not be listed here. To learn more about sexual assault laws and workplace sexual harassment definitions in your state, contact a personal injury attorney.
Can I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit After a Sexual Assault?
If you have been sexually assaulted, it is likely that charges have been filed against the person responsible. If that person is tried and convicted, he or she will spend years, or even a lifetime in prison. But in addition to the criminal process, sexual assault victims can also file a personal injury claim against the perpetrator.
Personal injury claims help the victims of sexual assault recovery a sense of justice, and in many cases, provide financial compensation for what they have endured. Many sexual assaults result in physical injuries and medical costs, emotional pain and suffering, and ongoing therapy.
In the event that the person responsible for your sexual assault is not criminally convicted, you may still have the ability to file a personal injury claim against them. You may have sufficient evidence to prove your claims in civil court.
Legal Justification for Sexual Assault
There is no such thing as a “cause of action” for sexual assault. That means, there is no legal justification for a sexual assault occurring. Instead, you must cite an intentional tort, or a wrongful act, that led to your harm. Intentional torts often cited in sexual assault cases include:
- False imprisonment
- Infliction of emotional distress (intentional or negligent)
Another thing you should know about sexual assault claims is that the perpetrator him or herself is not always the only defendant in a lawsuit. Sometimes you can also sue a third party, such as an employer who hired someone despite a violent criminal history.
Should I File a Sexual Assault Claim?
Sexual assault is never “okay”. Victims can, and should, pursue criminal or civil action against someone who sexually assaults them. Victims should also pursue compensation, when applicable, to help them cover costs associated with their injuries. The best way to get started is to locate a sexual assault attorney in your area who specializes in sexual assault cases.
Working with an attorney ensures that you and your legal rights are protected as you pursue justice against such heinous acts. This can be valuable support as you face this difficult time in your life.