Sexual assault is a serious crime in Texas. Often, it occurs when people with authority take advantage of those who look up to them, like a supervisor or manager at a victim’s workplace, a teacher or staff member at a local school or a clergyman at a local church. While sexual assault can lead to severe consequences for the attacker, bringing a criminal prosecution does little to provide the compensation and closure that the victims of such assault need to be able to move forward and to live their lives as best they can. That is why, in addition to reporting such incidents to police and demanding an investigation, the victims of sexual assault have the option to turn to the civil court system to file a sexual assault lawsuit to get the justice they seek and the compensation they deserve to help them move forward.
At Hill Law Firm, we are committed to ensuring that victims of sexual assault are protected and compensated under the law. This article outlines how the law protects victims of sexual assault and the ways in which experienced attorneys can ensure that victims receive these protections.
Texas Law and the Process Aims to Protect Sexual Assault Victims
Under Texas law, sexual assault is a serious crime that is often prosecuted as a felony. This is why these crimes should be reported to the police first. In addition, the state of Texas is focused on helping sexual assault victims find the resources they need to heal after an attack. Under Texas law, the victims of intentional acts such as sexual abuse, sexual assault, molestation, and rape have the right to seek compensation from the criminals and other parties that have committed intentional acts against them. In addition, they can also seek compensation from third parties that allowed the sexual assault, sexual abuse, molestation, rape, or other intentional action to occur.
What Can a Civil Lawsuit Help to Provide?
As noted, details like the cost of medical procedures and treatment can be too much to deal with while you’re in the process of healing from your trauma. And yet, sexual assault can lead to significant medical expenses that a sexual assault lawsuit can help you recover. It’s possible to recover the cost of your current treatment as well as the cost of any future treatment, care or rehabilitation that is needed for your injuries. This can be difficult to manage on your own during a time of crisis. Hiring an attorney with experience recovering costs and damages associated with a sexual assault can help to provide the support and guidance that victims need.
In addition to direct medical cost recovery, a civil sexual assault lawsuit can also help you recover any lost wages and other lost income that the sexual assault has cost you. It is not unusual for victims of sexual assault to be unable to return to work for weeks, months or even years following the incident, which means the time away from work can cost the victim income that is vital for their day-to-day lives. The attack may affect your future earnings and a lawsuit can help you recover that as well. Following a sexual assault, compensation may also be available for the mental anguish that usually accompanies the trauma. Pain and suffering can lead to lasting harm in your life including taking away activities you once enjoyed and causing significant problems such as depression, fear, and anxiety. You can and should be compensated for that.
If you decide to file a lawsuit for sexual assault, it’s best to contact a sexual assault attorney as soon as possible. The best sexual assault lawyers know how to build a civil lawsuit for justice and compensation for medical treatment and recovery costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other forms of compensation.
How Injury Attorneys Can Help Victims of Sexual Assault
While sexual assault is a crime, the victim can also file a civil lawsuit against responsible parties in order to get a more direct measure of justice. A victim of sexual assault, sexual abuse, or sexual harassment has the constitutional right to make sure the person who committed the assault, abuse, or harassment is held accountable for their actions. Finding an attorney can help to ensure that the perpetrator pays the price that their crime has had on a victim’s physical and emotional wellbeing.
In a criminal trial, it is necessary to prove the perpetrator guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil lawsuit, however, the standard of proof is considerably lower, in that a civil jury needs only to believe it is more likely than not that the perpetrator committed the act, and that the damages suffered were real. It is possible to file a civil suit for sexual assault, abuse, or harassment, even when the perpetrator is never charged criminally, or even if they are found not guilty.
The fact is, many sexual assault victims are reluctant to file suit against the person who attacked them, often because they just want everything to go away. While that is understandable, it’s often not the best way to begin the healing process. In many cases, fighting back may bring the best and most satisfying closure possible. Hiring an attorney to help you with your case is often the best way to feel better about moving forward. Such an attorney should fight for your rights, work closely with you with empathy and compassion, and they should make you feel like you have a partner on your search for justice.
Why You Need a Lawyer for Your Sexual Assault Case
Some of the important things that must be done in any case for sexual assault can be done by an experienced and knowledgeable sexual assault attorney. They include:
- Conduct a thorough investigation of the circumstances of the attack. This is important because sexual assault cases can be complicated and you need as much evidence as possible to prove your case and your damages. While you concentrate on your recovery, your lawyer can gather up all police reports, witness information, and many other important sources of information. A sexual assault lawsuit needs detailed procedures and evidence, which is why it is best to have an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer on your side during the entire process.
- It’s also necessary to evaluate and value your injuries and damages because that information can help you decide on how much compensation you deserve. A sexual assault can leave victims with serious injuries and lasting harm, both physically and emotionally, and it is important to evaluate them all and calculate the compensation needed for these damages and injuries. This is a very difficult process and it requires knowledge of the law combined with a thorough understanding of the case. A sexual assault attorney can discuss your injuries with you and prepare a lawsuit for the damages that you deserve.
- Instead of you, your lawyer can conduct any negotiations necessary with all relevant insurance companies. In rare cases, it can be possible for victims to negotiate a settlement with the insurers of those parties responsible for the sexual assault, but even under the best circumstances, such negotiations can be time-consuming and highly technical. Worse, they are also emotionally draining at a time when you are trying to recover from the trauma of your sexual assault. With an experienced and knowledgeable attorney on your team, they can help you secure the justice and compensation that you need, want, and deserve.
- You need help litigating your case. If your case needs to go to court, an experienced and knowledgeable sexual assault attorney can handle the process and you likely cannot. There is a reason that even an experienced attorney will hire another attorney to handle their own case. Any case that goes to court must comply with complex and exacting legal and evidentiary rules, in addition to strict rules on court filings and court procedure which you are likely not prepared to handle on your own.
- An attorney in your sexual assault lawsuit will also serve as your most zealous advocate; someone will work to protect your rights and get you the compensation you need and deserve. And again, your sexual assault case comes at a time when you are focused on healing and a lawyer can lessen the burden of the case and allow you to focus on healing.
Who Can Be Held Liable?
Many categories of defendants may be held liable in a civil lawsuit for sexual assault, including the perpetrators, various negligent third parties, and individuals who are legally required to report such attacks, among many others. Many of these groups can be considered important sources of compensation during your recovery from a sexual assault. In many cases, the perpetrators of a sexual assault may be held personally liable for their actions, even if they are already in the criminal justice system and have been convicted and are sitting in jail. Even in those cases, you can still bring a civil lawsuit for sexual assault, since the civil matter is separate from criminal charges. Let your attorney do their job; they can gather all evidence and records related to the assault, file a lawsuit, and work to hold everyone accountable for what they’ve done.
In many sexual assault cases, third parties may also be held liable. Depending on the situation, this can include parties such as nursing homes, hotels, hospitals, apartment complexes, and others. These organizations may be held liable when their failures to act led to the sexual assault or allowed it to happen. For example, nursing homes are required to hire, train, and monitor their staff and if the staff members engage in a sexual assault, it may be because the organization has failed in their duties to train them. Similarly, such businesses as hotels and apartment complexes are required to provide adequate security and lighting to keep their guests safe from harm, and if they fail in those duties, they may be liable for the injuries you suffered as a result of the assault.
Of course, in addition to business organizations, many individuals like clergy, health care workers and teachers have a legal obligation to report sexual assaults and abuse wherever and whenever they suspect them. When they fail in their duties to do so, they may be held liable for the injuries you sustained when your assault happened. A lawyer can investigate what happened, whether these individuals acted inappropriately and hold them accountable for their failures.
We Are Here To Support You
Hill Law Firm has experience representing victims of sexual assault in Texas. We know that these are deeply personal and painful matters. Because of this, your confidentiality is important to us. Any information shared with us will remain confidential. If you have been the victim of sexual assault, please file a police report first. Our personal injury lawyers in San Antonio are here to discuss the details of your case in person or by phone, text, or chat.