What Is Considered Sexual Assault and What Are Your Legal Options?

May 29, 2021 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
What Is Considered Sexual Assault and What Are Your Legal Options? Sexual assault is traumatic for victims of all ages. Post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) can prevent survivors from working and earning a living. The circumstances of your sexual assault may also, however, make civil action against the responsible party possible. Pursuing compensation for your damages has no impact on a criminal case. You may want to contact a personal injury attorney for a free case evaluation.

Alarming Statistics Regarding Sexual Assault

According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), an American is sexually assaulted every 73 seconds. Sexual assault does not discriminate against gender or age. The following statistics are both eye-opening and alarming to who is vulnerable for such a traumatic experience:
  • One out of every 6 women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape.
  • Ages 12-34 are the highest risk years for rape and sexual assault.
  • 21 percent of transgender, genderqueer, nonconforming (TGQN) report being sexually assaulted.
  • One out of every 10 rape victims are men.
These are only a few of the frightening statistics that demonstrate the genuine danger of sexual assault. A sexual assault can cause victims to feel:
  • Shame: survivors believe they are bad or flawed
  • Guilt: survivors think the assault was their fault
  • Denial: survivors claim they are fine or minimize the event as a one-time occurrence
  • Problems with trust: survivors find it hard to trust others
Trust of special concern when it comes to the perpetrator. The person responsible for your sexual assault or the assault of a loved one may hold a position of authority. Perpetrators of sexual assault are closer than you think, with many victims knowing —and trusting —the person responsible for their harm. Sexual assault can occur everywhere from nursing homes to Lyft vehicles.

Perpetrator Statistics: Who Commits Sexual Assault?

Information provided by RAINN shows that when it comes to sexual assault, many victims know their attacker:
  • 59 percent are acquaintances
  • 34 percents are family members
  • 7 percent were strangers to the victim
Sexual assaults involving children sometimes occur with a person of trust. Teachers, clergy, doctors, and coaches may pay extra attention to a child, shower them with gifts, and isolate them. Workplace sexual assaults are far too common for adults of all genders. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) reports when it comes to the workplace and sexual assaults:
  • One in seven women and one in 17 men have sought a new assignment, changed jobs, or quit due to sexual harassment or a sexual assault.
  • Sixty percent of women say they have experienced unwanted sexual advances or coercion in the workplace.
A sexual assault by a coworker or supervisor can make remaining there nearly impossible. Hold the perpetrator of your sexual assault accountable is easier with a lawyer by your side. Safe environments are important for children and adults. The lasting effects of a sexual assault are something that may follow a survivor throughout their life. A sexual assault lawyer can examine your case to determine if you qualify for a claim and lawsuit. Learn more: Sexual Assault in an Uber

Long Term Effects of Sexual Assault for Victims

There is no quick recovery from a sexual assault as victims must deal with the trauma's effects. Long-term effects of a sexual assault include:
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • More likely to use drugs than the public
  • Panic attacks
  • Persistent fear
  • Sense of helplessness
  • Phobias
  • Dissociation
  • Relationship difficulties
Pursuing compensation for your damages holds the responsible party accountable for their actions. A lawyer can handle the legal details so that you do not relive your assault throughout your case. Access to the medical care you need is vital for healing. No assault victim should pay out of pocket for the services they need when the perpetrator is a trusted professional. Counseling, therapies, and medical care for your injuries can result in costs that exceed your ability to pay. Getting the care you need is essential for your healing, and the liable party should pay these costs. Personal injury lawyers understand how devastating the assault was for the victim. If you suffered injuries—both mental and physical—due to the negligent actions of a professional entrusted with your or your child's care, financial compensation is available.

Criminal versus Civil Cases

Sexual assault is a crime, and any relating charges move through the criminal court system. Many perpetrators are familiar with the court system —of every 1,000 cases, an average of 370 have at least one prior felony conviction. The outcome of a criminal case has no bearing on your right to pursue a civil case for your damages. A personal injury claim and lawsuit—if successful—can serve as a form of justice for the trauma you experienced. The damages you suffered may include:
  • Physical injuries
  • Mental anguish
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earnings if returning to your job is impossible
  • Therapy and counseling for the emotional, mental, and psychological harm you experienced
An attorney can pursue these damages on your behalf. While compensation is never guaranteed, pursuing it is your right. The outcome of your case depends upon various factors. Through it all, a personal injury attorney can provide you with legal representation as you recover from your traumatizing experience. Your lawyer can determine if there is more than one liable party responsible for your harm. A medical or educational facility owes those who rely on their services a duty of care. Failure to protect patients and students can leave them potentially liable for your damages. Identifying all parties liable for your harm is imperative for ensuring this type of crime never happens again.

Insurance Companies and Your Sexual Assault

A sexual assault at work, an event, or a medical facility is preventable if security measures are in place. Failure to conduct a proper background check, maintain security cameras, or protect those invited onto the property from harm demands action. Once the facility, perpetrator, or both discover you plan to pursue legal action, they may contact you. The insurance company wants to close your claim as quickly as possible. Insurance adjusters use tactics designed to confuse you. Accepting a settlement without a lawyer present only benefits the insurance company and not you. The offer may seem like a large amount that you can use to pay bills. The insurance company is most likely offering the least amount of money possible. They want to pay you—the assault victim—as little compensation as possible. If you accept their settlement offer, you cannot pursue legal action later. When you develop complications from your assault, it is generally impossible to pursue another claim or lawsuit. Your case is now considered settled and closed. A sexual assault is terrifying, and victims deserve justice. The stress of the assault can make you anxious and stressed for days, weeks, and months to come. For some survivors, the process takes forever, and the pain never disappears.

Personal Injury Lawyers Care About Their Clients

You may feel anxious about discussing your case with a lawyer. Reliving the details of your assault is never easy. Providing your lawyer with a police report, photographs of your injuries, and as many details as possible can help them prepare your case. A free case evaluation by a friendly and caring attorney is a good place to start. This important first step can alleviate your concerns as you learn more about how a lawyer can assist you. Personal injury lawyers work to secure the best outcome for their client's case. They listen to sexual assault survivors, connect them with resources if necessary, and support them by providing consistent communication. Most personal injury lawyers work on a no-fee basis. This means they collect no fee unless they secure compensation for you. A personal injury lawyer will treat you with compassion while aggressively fighting for the compensation you need and deserve.

Time Is Ticking for Pursuing Justice

The statute of limitations binds civil cases. You must file your personal injury lawsuit within a required deadline or lose your chance forever. The overwhelming emotions you experience following your sexual assault can cause you to miss the filing deadline. The nightmares, depression, and other outcomes of a sexual assault are not fair. The trauma you experienced, however, demands that the perpetrator and those who failed their duty of care face accountability. This is why it's important to move quickly, and ensure the justice system holds these bad actors accountable.

Personal Injury Lawyers Help Sexual Assault Survivors

A sexual assault impacts your life significantly, from your ability to sleep to the ability to trust others. For children, the long-term effects are many and why caring for their emotional health is crucial for the healing process. A personal injury lawyer fights for sexual assault survivors. Whether during insurance company negotiations or at trial, they leave no stone unturned in proving negligence. There is no “getting over a sexual assault.” There is also no quick resolution to most civil cases. Many personal injury cases settle out of court; however, a personal injury lawyer can take your case to trial if necessary. The knowledge that you are not alone can provide a level of comfort during this challenging time. Hiring a lawyer can protect you from assertive insurance adjusters who refuse to take no for an answer. Your recovery is too important to leave to chance. Consider placing your case in the hands of a qualified, professional attorney. They have no problem standing up to insurance companies that try to pressure survivors into a low-dollar settlement.

Sexual Assault and Its Long-Term Effects Are Serious, and Demand Action

The long-term effects of a sexual assault range from PTSD to poor health. Caring for yourself or a loved one is your top priority as you navigate your way back to a somewhat normal routine. That routine may not include your career if that is the location of the assault or your stress prevents it. Reducing or losing income can devastate you as you receive medical bills for your physical and mental health care.

Contact Dolman Law Group for Help With Your Sexual Assault Lawsuit

If you have the terrible burden of a sexual assault resting on your shoulders, an attorney can help you. Allowing a personal injury attorney to lift the burden and to represent you with insurance companies can afford you more time to focus on yourself. Helping your loved one work through a sexual assault or abuse leaves you no time to handle a legal claim and lawsuit. Consistent communication from your attorney can provide you peace of mind as you access resources that can help your child. A personal injury lawsuit can serve as a form of justice. The potential is too important for holding the perpetrator accountable for the harm they caused you or your child.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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