Denton, TX, is a great place to call home as it provides a wonderful suburban feeling while being conveniently located within the popular Dallas-Fort Worth metro area. Unfortunately, as is the case within most U.S. cities, sexual assault and rape are much more common than most people realize. In part, this is because only a small percentage of these cases get reported to the police. Understandably, survivors of sexual abuse may hesitate to report a crime due to shock, unwarranted shame, and many other reasons. However, it is incredibly important to report acts of sexual violence. Not only can reporting sex abuse result in the perpetrator being held criminally liable, but it may also allow a survivor to obtain monetary compensation for the trauma they suffered. At the Hartley Law Firm, we proudly represent sexual assault victims, helping connect them with meaningful compensation to aid them in the recovery process.
The Types of Sexual Abuse Lawsuits: Criminal and Civil
Sexual assault is against the law, so when most people picture a sexual abuse lawsuit, they imagine a criminal trial. However, there are two types of sexual assault lawsuits: criminal and civil.
A criminal case begins when the perpetrator is arrested. The district attorney then charges them with one or more crimes, and a jury ultimately determines if they are guilty. However, the prosecution must establish each charge beyond a reasonable doubt to prove a defendant criminally guilty of the crime. This is a very high burden—the highest in all of law. Unfortunately, this high burden of proof means that many perpetrators evade criminal responsibility.
However, a sexual assault victim can also bring a civil claim against a perpetrator. Instead of being focused on punishing the defendant for violating the law, the purpose of a civil case is to obtain financial compensation from the responsible party. A civil sexual assault lawsuit must be proven by a “preponderance of the evidence,” which is a significantly lower burden of proof than in criminal cases. Therefore, even if a perpetrator was never criminally charged or was acquitted at trial, they could still be held liable in a civil sexual assault lawsuit.
Who Can Be Financially Responsible in a Denton Sexual Assault Lawsuit
After a sexual assault, a survivor can pursue a personal injury claim. Certainly, the perpetrator is the most obvious defendant. However, there may be others depending on the situation.
For example, property owners may be liable for a sexual assault if they fail to take the necessary precautions to protect guests or visitors. Perpetrators may take advantage of inadequate security at any of the following locations:
- Hotels or resorts;
- Apartment complexes;
- Restaurants and bars; and
- Parking lots.
Generally, the owners of these locations must implement safety procedures to protect against known dangers. Suppose that there have been reports of sexual assault in a particular area. These reports may require an apartment complex to hire a security guard as a means of protecting against a known danger. Likewise, nursing homes may be liable for nursing home sexual abuse, and schools or daycare centers may be liable for child sexual abuse. In these cases, the property owner is responsible for a survivor’s damages to the same extent as the perpetrator.
Damages in a Denton Sexual Abuse Lawsuit
Sexual assault survivors who successfully bring a sexual abuse lawsuit are entitled to recover compensation for their damages. While each case is unique, courts generally award survivors both economic and non-economic damages, which often include payment for the following:
- Past and future medical expenses;
- Lost wages due to an inability to work;
- Pain and suffering;
- Mental anguish; and
- Emotional distress.
Survivors must prove that they’ve suffered such damages before recovering compensation. For example, your Denton sexual abuse attorney may gather all your medical bills and retain an expert to properly project your future medical costs. On the other hand, pinning down damage amounts for less tangible things like pain and suffering, mental anguish, and emotional distress can be more challenging. Your attorney can calculate what you can expect to recover for these less tangible damages because they know what it takes to prove these losses to a judge or jury.
Contact the Denton Sexual Abuse Attorneys at the Hartley Law Firm to Schedule a Free and Confidential Consultation
If you were recently the victim of a sexual assault, you deserve to be compensated for what you’ve been through. Understandably, you may be hesitant to reach out to a lawyer, as you might not know what to expect. However, at the Hartley Law Firm, our Denton sexual abuse lawyer knows what you’ve endured, and we strive to make the recovery process as easy on you as possible. We take an individualized approach to each case we handle; focusing on what you tell us is important. We can often secure favorable settlements without the need for a formal trial, which means you may not need to testify.
At Hartley Law Firm, our lawyers accept injury cases involving:
To learn more about the Harley Law Firm and to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, give us a call. You can also reach out to us through our online contact form. We represent clients in Carrollton and throughout the Dallas metropolitan area.