Statistics indicate a sad truth in the United States—about 321,500 people are sexually assaulted on an annual basis, which comes out to an average of 880 people per day. Whether an assault involved a rape or unwanted sexual touching, survivors can be left with feelings of shame and guilt—even though they were blameless. Serious sexual assaults can also cause physical injuries to victims, some of which may affect them for the rest of their lives.
Those who struggle with physical and psychological injuries after sexual assaults should discuss their legal rights with injury attorneys as soon as possible. At Dolman Law Group, we know how sensitive and personal this type of incident can be, and we provide compassionate assistance that you can trust for all assault survivors. If you want to learn more about a free and completely confidential consultation with our Florida sexual assault laws or child sexual assault laws, please contact a member of our dedicated team today.
Civil vs. Criminal Sexual Assault Proceedings in Florida
When you think of a legal case following a sexual assault, you likely first think of a criminal case. If you seek help from a hospital, doctor, or law enforcement agency following a sexual assault, they will gather evidence of the assault for a criminal case. If your assailant is found, hopefully he will be arrested, taken off the streets so he cannot harm anyone else, and face criminal charges for sexual assault.
In a criminal case, a prosecutor must prove that the defendant committed the sexual assault beyond a reasonable doubt. If a prosecutor succeeds—or if the defendant agrees to plead guilty—the defendant will be convicted of the crime and will be sentenced to certain penalties. Such penalties can include imprisonment, probation, fines, and registering as a Florida sex offender. However, while you may have to testify in the criminal case and relive this painful memory, a criminal conviction does little to provide any compensation for the harm you suffered. Instead, criminal cases are more focused on punishing the offender and protecting others.
While nothing can erase a traumatic event like a sexual assault, financial compensation can help survivors cover their expenses and find a sense of justice. Such compensation is available through the civil court system. Unfortunately, in addition to participating in the criminal case, survivors must also file a case in civil court to seek compensation for their many losses.
Civil cases may be easier to prove than criminal charges, because the burden of proof is lower than “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In addition, you can use a defendant’s conviction as important evidence in your civil case. To lighten the burden on sexual assault survivors, our experienced attorneys will handle every step of the civil personal injury process so that you can focus on your own well-being.
Injuries and Losses Caused by Sexual Assault
Sexual assaults are traumatic under any circumstances. In some situations, survivors are left dealing with physical injuries in addition to emotional trauma. Injuries that can result from such assaults include:
- Abrasions or lacerations
- Sexually-transmitted diseases
- Unwanted pregnancies
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Injuries from force used to perpetrate the assault
- Injuries from restraints used
These injuries can result in numerous losses—both tangible and intangible. You can seek compensation in a civil injury claim for:
- Medical bills for emergency treatment and ongoing treatment
- Costs for terminating a pregnancy if needed
- Costs of pregnancy, childbirth, and adoption, if applicable
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Expenses for psychological or psychiatric treatment
- Loss of enjoyment of life
In addition, many sexual assault survivors can obtain punitive damages. This type of compensation is reserved for victims of highly egregious acts—and intentional sexual assault can certainly qualify. It is important to have an attorney handling your claim who can identify all possible damages to which the law entitles you.
Your Rights as a Sexual Assault Survivor
There is no specific civil legal action for “sexual assault.” Instead, your lawyer can determine which causes of action are available in your specific case. Examples include:
- Assault and battery
- False imprisonment
- Intentional infliction of emotional distress
Furthermore, you may have a claim against a third party that may have some legal responsibility for the assault. Examples include a hotel, hospital, school, or business that did not have adequate security to prevent the assailant from attacking you. In addition, if an employer failed to adequately screen or supervise employees, you may hold the company liable for negligent hiring or negligent supervision if an employee assaults you in the course of his job.
Identifying any liable third parties—especially companies—can help in sexual assault cases, because an assailant may not have the money to compensate you for your losses, especially if he is now incarcerated and unable to work. On the other hand, a company should have the assets or insurance coverage for harm caused by employees, and can ensure you receive the full amount you deserve for the harm you suffered. Again, while money can never turn back time and change what happened, it can help relieve some financial stress from medical bills—and empower you to hold the assailant accountable for his actions.
How a Florida Sexual Assault Lawyer Can Help You
At Dolman Law Group, we understand how difficult it can be to constantly relive your sexual assault throughout the legal process. Even after a criminal case has ended, you still have important legal rights as a sexual assault survivor. Our legal team is sensitive to the unique issues involved in this type of case and handles each matter accordingly.
If you would like to explore your legal options, please do not hesitate to reach out online or call (727) 451-6900 to schedule a free consultation with a Florida sexual assault injury attorney today.