Unfortunately, sexual abuse is far too common in the United States. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), sexual violence affects millions of Americans. However, only 25 out of every 1,000 perpetrators end up in prison. Thus, a sexual abuse survivor may consider bringing a civil lawsuit with the help of a Richardson sexual abuse lawyer to hold their abusers and those who enabled them accountable.
The attorneys at the Hartley Law Firm realize that money does not begin to address the trauma caused by sexual abuse. However, survivors sometimes find that civil lawsuits can bring a sense of closure so they can start rebuilding their lives. Unfortunately, sometimes money is the only way the law can provide justice to those impacted by sexual abuse, and survivors certainly deserve compensation for what they’ve endured. Our compassionate attorneys are ready to help you navigate the legal system and fight for justice in a Richardson sexual abuse case. Reach out to us and speak with a lawyer today about your case.
Types of Sexual Abuse
According to the American Psychological Association, sexual assault “involves unwanted sexual activity, with perpetrators often using force, making threats, or taking advantage of victims not being able to give consent.” The most common types of sexual abuse include the following:
- Date rape,
- Child sexual abuse,
- Sexual abuse in youth organizations,
- Nursing home sexual abuse,
- Campus sexual assault,
- Workplace sexual abuse,
- Teen sexual abuse,
- Sexual abuse by clergy,
- Sexual assault in schools, and
- Sexual assault by family members.
The impact of sexual abuse can be severe and long-lasting. The long-term effects may include anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, low-self esteem, emotional issues, and substance abuse. Survivors of sexual abuse often need therapy, treatment, or other medical assistance to cope and heal. Survivors are entitled to seek compensation for the costs of their treatment and the emotional effects of the abuse.
Civil and Criminal Sexual Assault Cases
The same act can result in both a civil lawsuit and criminal prosecution. A criminal prosecutor can prosecute an abuser for a crime, with the survivor as a witness. However, survivors of sexual abuse or sexual assault can bring a civil lawsuit and steer their own course of justice.
There are many differences between civil and criminal cases. A critical distinction involves the burden of proof. In a criminal case, the burden of proof is very high—beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil case, the burden of proof is a preponderance of the evidence, which means that it’s more likely than not that something occurred. This standard is significantly lower than in a criminal case.
In a criminal prosecution, the prosecutor brings a case on behalf of the state. Although the survivor is a critical witness, they have no control over how the case proceeds. In a civil case, however, the survivor and their attorney control the case and make all the strategic decisions. Plus, survivors may recover compensation from a lawsuit.
Damages Available in a Sexual Abuse Lawsuit
The circumstances surrounding every sexual abuse case are different. Quantifying the impact on a survivor’s physical, economic, and emotional well-being is incredibly difficult. This impact underscores the need for exceptional legal representation in your Richardson sexual abuse case.
Although damage awards are highly variable depending on the case, they often include the following:
- Past and future medical expenses,
- Lost wages,
- Future income loss,
- Emotional distress,
- Pain and suffering,
- Diminished quality of life, and
- Loss of companionship and consortium.
In addition to the above, Texas courts may award punitive damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish the abuser for horrific behavior. Although this may seem obvious in a sexual abuse case, the rules for punitive damages are stringent.
You should discuss your potential compensation with a Richardson sexual abuse attorney at the Hartley Law Firm. We can review the evidence in your case to estimate your potential compensation.
Who May Be Liable in a Civil Sexual Abuse Case?
The person who committed the sexual abuse may not be the only party liable in your Richardson sexual abuse case. Third parties who may be liable include:
- An employer who failed to perform adequate background checks;
- A caregiver who failed to prevent abuse;
- An institution that knew of potential sexual abuse but did nothing; or
- A landlord who failed to maintain adequate security measures for an apartment complex.
Identifying all the responsible parties in a sexual abuse case isn’t always straightforward. Therefore, it is important to discuss your case with a sexual abuse attorney.
Contact a Richardson Sexual Abuse Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one is a sexual assault or abuse survivor, you need a knowledgeable and compassionate Richardson sexual abuse lawyer. The Hartley Law Firm is here to help. We have extensive experience assisting survivors in pursuing cases against their abusers. Our attorneys will listen to your experience, answer your questions, and explain your legal options. We can also help you determine whether other parties, such as a business or organization, may be liable. Plus, we’re not afraid to fight a case at trial if it’s in our client’s best interest. Contact us by phone or online for a confidential consultation today.