In addition to any criminal consequences that an individual may face for sexual assault, a victims rights attorney can explain that victims can pursue a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator. A criminal conviction can result in jail or prison time, fines, probation, and other consequences. In contrast, a civil lawsuit can provide monetary compensation for the crime victim, if successful.
Damages denote how the victim was injured. In sexual assault cases, the level of damages is usually based off of the physical injury that the victim suffered. It may also encompass the victim’s emotional and psychological injury. Both present and potential future injury is taken into account. Sexual assault cases are considered heinous crimes. Due to the nature of these cases, jury may award a higher level of damages to compensate the victim for such egregious behavior by the defendant. However, even if a crime victim is awarded a large amount of damages, a victims rights attorney can explain that there is a difference between receiving the award and collecting it. The only source of compensation that a victim may actually realize may be the defendant’s personal assets. Liability insurance policies typically do not include coverage for the intentional wrongful acts of the insured individual.
However, in some cases, a victim can join another defendant in the lawsuit. This is usually in addition to the actual perpetrator of crime. For example, if the incident happened at a business, school, or employer’s location, the owner of the establishment may bear some liability in the case because he or she failed to properly provide security or to check the defendant’s background thoroughly.
If the defendant was found guilty in a criminal prosecution for sexual assault, it may be easier for the victim to recover in a civil lawsuit. In criminal proceedings, the standard is high: the defendant must be found guilty of every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil case, the burden is lower. Typically, the defendant must be found guilty by a preponderance of evidence. In civil cases, the victim must prove that it is more likely than not that the defendant committed the sexual assault. In some cases, the prosecution may choose not to pursue a case criminally because the standard of proof is much higher. This standard is difficult to prove. In some cases, there may be less clear facts, such as a victim’s faulty memory due to alcohol or drugs being involved in the case. Additionally, prosecutors must worry about their statistical rate of success and may choose not to pursue a case that they believe they will not win. However, a victim can still pursue a civil lawsuit based on the same set of facts. A legal term called “collateral estoppel” can also help the victim in a civil case. This legal concept means that the same issues do not have to be tried multiple times. If a jury found the defendant guilty of certain acts in a criminal case, these same findings can be used in the civil case.
For more information about pursuing a civil lawsuit for sexual assault, contact a victims rights attorney from the Law Office of Michael Fell by calling (877) 262-2430. All information provided will be kept confidential.