WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR INJURIES STEMMING FROM A SEXUAL ASSUALT?
As the victim of a sexual assault, you may have civil claims against more than one party. It depends on the circumstances surrounding the assault. You may have a claim for compensation against the assailant, the assailant’s employer or another individual. The injured party (male or female) may have a personal injury claim for damages sustained as a result of suffering a sexual assault. To prove a personal injury claim, the victim must show he or she was sexually assaulted by the defendant (assailant) and was injured as a result (physically or emotionally injured). It must also be shown that the defendant caused the plaintiff’s injuries, either intentionally or due to negligence.
If the victim has a negligence claim against an employer or another third party, there are different elements that must be proven to the court. These elements are that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty to keep them safe and the defendant breached that legal duty. Additionally, the breach caused the plaintiff’s injuries and the injuries suffered by the plaintiff were physical or emotional in nature. Since these are civil actions, and not criminal, the victim may choose whether to pursue a personal injury or negligence claim against the defendant.
What if a Sexual Assault Occurs in the Workplace?
If you were sexually assaulted in the workplace, you may have a negligence claim against your employer. You employer may have been negligent in keeping your building safe. For example, poor security measures, broken locks, poor parking lot lighting, etc. Similarly, your workplace may have been unsafe because it was a hostile environment. If you were being sexually harassed at work and your employer knew of this harassment, your employer may be held liable for allowing/permitting this environment, or failing to do anything to put a stop to it. An employer may also be held accountable for the actions of its employees without having knowledge of a hostile work environment and/or previous employee behavior. If your employers hired an employee with past sexual assault offenses, they may be liable for negligent hiring practices as well.
What Type of Compensation Could I Expect to Receive in a Sexual Assault Case?
If the fact finder (judge or jury) finds the defendant responsible for your injuries in a civil sexual assault case, you may be awarded damages for your physical injuries, emotional injuries and expenses incurred as a result of your injuries. Your physical injuries, whether temporary or permanent, may be taken into account when the judge is deciding your compensation. This may include pain and suffering as well. Moreover, any emotional consequences of your assault may be compensated, including fear, anxiety, trouble eating or sleeping or difficulty with personal relationships. The result of physical and emotional injuries may add up monetarily as well. Any medical bills, costs of treatment, loss of earning (due to the inability to work or fear of your workplace) or any other expenses caused by the sexual assault may be included in your amount of compensation from the defendant. The severity of your injuries, amount of financial expenses/costs and the circumstances surrounding the sexual assault may all determine the type and amount of damages you may be awarded in a civil sexual assault lawsuit.
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