We understand how difficult it can be to come forward with a sexual assault claim, especially if previous attempts to hold abusers accountable have faced pushback.
In Texas, sexual abuse may be prosecuted under criminal laws, and it also provides grounds for civil claims. However, taking sexual abusers to civil court differs from criminal cases. While criminal trials may end in punitive action, they do not address the harms and burdens faced by survivors. By filing a sexual assault case in civil court, you can request compensation to help you access therapy, counseling, and other necessary care. At Hartley Law Firm, we are committed to protecting the rights of victims and helping them receive the compensation they need.
What Is Sexual Abuse or Assault?
Texas law defines sexual assault as sexual acts committed without the consent of one of the parties or when a victim was not able to give consent, including:
- Coercive sexual acts;
- Forcible and violent intercourse with penetration or sexual contact, even when both parties consent;
- Sexual acts committed without the consent of one of the parties;
- Sexual abuse of someone who is not able to give consent due to mental incapacity or a disability; and
- Sexual conduct with, or sexual abuse or assault of, a minor.
Under Texas law, the victims of intentional acts such as sexual abuse, sexual assault, molestation, and rape have the right to seek compensation from their assailant and other parties who committed the intentional acts against them. In addition, they can also seek compensation from third parties who allowed the assault or abuse to occur. Those third parties may include the owner of the premises on which the assault occurred or others whose negligence contributed to the act. If you were the victim of sexual assault or abuse, the attorneys at Hartley Law Firm are here to help you seek justice.
How Can I Prove Sexual Abuse or Assault?
Building a strong case requires investigating and gathering evidence. There are several different types of evidence an attorney may use to help prove your case, including the following:
- Testimony from witnesses. Testimony from witnesses can support your version of events. If other victims of this perpetrator also testify, that can help bolster your case.
- Physical Evidence. Photographs of the scene or of injuries you sustained, photographs that show the defendant was with you or nearby at the time of the assault, or evidence such as DNA samples can all help support your claim.
- Records of communication or association with the accused. Preserve any audio recordings, video footage, text messages, emails, handwritten materials, or any other communications between you and the defendant.
You can bring a civil suit against your assailant even if their criminal trial resulted in an acquittal. The burden of proof in a civil lawsuit is lower than the burden in a criminal proceeding. The standard of proof in a civil case is a “preponderance of the evidence.” This means a plaintiff has to show it is more probable than not that the defendant committed the assault or abuse. This is a much less difficult burden to meet than the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard that applies in criminal cases.
What Can I Recover from a Sexual Abuse Lawsuit?
Every civil lawsuit is different, and the circumstances of every sexual assault are different.
However, some of the types of damages a plaintiff can recover in a sexual assault civil lawsuit may include the following:
- Medical care costs,
- Therapy expenses,
- Lost wages,
- Emotional damages,
- Pain and suffering, and
- Mental anguish.
We understand that determining your possible financial recovery may be difficult for you, as it could involve recalling your trauma. Our team will remain sensitive and mindful of your trauma while working hard to help you recover all of the damages you deserve.
How Long Do I Have to File a Sexual Abuse Case?
Every type of civil claim has to be brought within a certain period of time. This is called the statute of limitations. For a victim who was a child when the incident occurred, the statute of limitations for a civil sexual abuse lawsuit in Texas is 30 years from the date the child turns 18. In Texas, a child is anyone under the age of 18. A person who was an adult at the time of the assault or abuse has 5 years from the date of the incident to file a civil lawsuit.
A Sexual Abuse Lawyer Can Help You
At Hartley Law, our experienced attorneys can help you understand your legal options, obtain important evidence, and guide you through every step of the legal process. Austin Hartley is an award-winning attorney who was named the 2021 Litigator of the Year by the American Institute of Trial Lawyers. Austin and the Hartley Law Firm team will work tirelessly to protect your rights and fight for your best interests in and out of the courtroom. If you need experienced and compassionate Garland sexual abuse lawyers to represent you during this difficult time, contact Hartley Law Firm to find out how we can help you.