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Can Victims Of Sexual Assault File Civil Lawsuits?

Becoming the victim of sexual assault, child sexual abuse, or any other sexual crime changes your life forever. Although it’s common for victims to fear coming forward, for many others, seeing the people responsible brought to justice is the most important step for recovery. In recent years, more and more victims have gained the courage to come forward as several high-profile sexual assault and sexual harassment lawsuits have made national headlines. A recent surge in rape statistics in New York City has been attributed to improvements in reporting protocol, rather than an uptick in actual rapes committed.

Reporting the crime to the police should be the first step for anyone who plans to take legal action. But unfortunately, the criminal justice system prioritizes conviction rates over helping crime victims. While taking dangerous predators off our streets is an understandable priority, it’s also important to consider how these victims can get the support they need for moving on as survivors of sexual assault or child sexual abuse.

Who Can Be Held Liable In A Sexual Assault Lawsuit?

Fortunately, the civil court system specializes in helping victims who suffer unnecessary harm because of someone else’s malice or negligence. Along with providing financial support, some victims of sexual crimes turn to civil lawsuits after the criminal justice system fails to arrest or convict the perpetrator of the crime.

There are generally two categories of potentially liable parties in these lawsuits: the perpetrators of the crime, and any third parties who could have prevented the crime if it weren’t for some form of negligence. Examples of negligent third parties include:

  • Business owners who fail to provide adequate security, such as a parking lot with no security guards
  • Employers who failed to properly screen an employee with a history of sexual offenses
  • Schools, athletic leagues, youth organizations, or other institutions involving children working with adults that fail to properly run background checks and hire sex offenders
  • Negligent supervision when a teacher, daycare employee, or another person responsible for supervising a child fails to do so, allowing the child to be abused

What Types Of Compensation Are Available?sad girl holding teddy bear

In a successful sexual assault or child sexual abuse lawsuit, victims can recover damages for both three forms of damages:

  • Economic Damages – Damages for specific monetary losses which occurred as a result of the crime, including medical bills, psychiatric care, past and future wages if unable to work, etc.
  • Noneconomic Damages – Damages for less quantifiable personal losses suffered because of the assault, such as pain, suffering, mental distress, etc.
  • Punitive Damages – Damages available in cases where the defendant intentionally and maliciously caused harm to the plaintiff. These damages will be based on the nature of the act, the harm caused or that the defendant intended to cause, and the amount that would appropriately punish the defendant based on their financial situation. These damages are almost always awarded in sexual assault and child sexual abuse cases.

In order to ensure you recover the maximum compensation available, we advise seeking guidance from an experienced Queens civil sexual assault lawyer. A lawyer can help you build your case by gathering evidence, testimony from witnesses, and identifying all possible negligent parties who could have prevented you or your loved one’s traumatic experience.

How Do Sexual Assault Civil Lawsuits Help Victims?

These lawsuits not only help the individual filing the lawsuit, but victims of sexual assault as a whole. Some of the specific benefits of filing a sexual assault or child sexual abuse lawsuit include:

  • Financial support for damages suffered as a result of the crime
  • The survivor has more control than in criminal court
  • Holds perpetrators responsible when criminal courts fail to convict
  • Demands accountability from parties who could do more to stop sexual assault, like colleges, youth organizations, employers, etc.
  • Encourages other victims to speak out about their experiences and get support

If you or a loved one recently suffered as the victim of a sexual crime, our Queens personal injury lawyers can help you explore your legal options and seek justice. To find out more, contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.

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