The injuries following a sexual assault can be devastating. The physical injuries can have long-term complications and leave profound emotional scars. Irrespective of the status of criminal proceedings related to the sexual assault, you can seek remedies in civil court under tort law. You may be dealing with a variety of unexpected expenses after the sexual assault. The future seems blurry as medical costs add up quickly. You may feel there is no hope. However, the future doesn’t have to be hopeless if you can secure the right legal representation and resources.
If you or someone you know is going through the difficulties of recovering from the injuries caused by sexual assault, you should call a qualified attorney. The dedicated team of attorneys at the Reiff Law Firm can help injured victims seek compensation for their losses. To schedule an appointment, contact us at (215) 246-9000.
Common Types of Injuries After Sexual Assault
According to a study reported in Sex Health, 87% of victims of sexual assault suffer injuries. These injuries can be severe, including hemorrhages, skeletal fractures, or trauma that requires surgery. Other painful symptoms include the following:
- Decreased appetite and weight loss
- Abdominal pain
In addition to the injuries above, victims of sexual assault can also face the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases and other serious health consequences. There are severe emotional scars and related medical problems. For example, studies show there is a relationship between sexual assault victimization and sleep difficulties, depression, alcohol, drug use, suicide attempts, and violence. All these consequences can lead to much greater physical and emotional pain down the road. With the right medical and psychological support, you can avoid these health consequences.
Filing a Lawsuit for Sexual Assault in Pennsylvania
A victim of sexual assault can file a civil lawsuit under the legal theory of torts. There are tort causes of action as well as statutes specifically designed to give victims of sexual assault a source of legal remedies.
Individuals can file civil lawsuits for their injuries irrespective of whether there is a criminal prosecution against the alleged aggressor. Criminal liability (i.e., a conviction) is considered evidence a civil court.
Assault and Battery
The theory of torts for assault and battery is the most common legal avenue of civil liability for victims of sexual assault. Assault is considered an intentional act that causes the victim to be afraid of imminent harmful contact. Battery involves causing harmful or offensive contact. Since a cause of action for tortious assault and battery requires a showing of intent to harm, you should talk to your attorney to see if this is a viable cause of action depending on the circumstances of your case.
Sexual assault is considered a crime motivated by gender. According to 42 U.S.C. § 1398, there is a private cause of action against anyone who commits a crime of violence motivated by gender. This law is more commonly known as the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). VAWA is a federal law that gives tort protection to victims of violence, including sexual assault. Also, there are causes of action in Pennsylvania that your lawyer can discuss with you upon consultation.
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
The tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) also gives victims of sexual assault an avenue to file a civil lawsuit to seek financial recovery. IIED typically applies to situations where a person suffers severe emotional harm. The three elements for the imposition of liability include (1) extreme and outrageous conduct, (2) intent, and (3) serious emotional harm. Here the act must be intended to cause the other to anticipate an imminent, harmful, or offensive contact with his or her person.
The psychological damage can be based on sexual assault or the emotional harm associated with physical harm. Emotional harm doesn’t have to be a specific emotional or mental condition, since it is widely accepted that sexual assault alone can damage an individual’s mental state. There is a wide array of mental states that can impair your peace of mind, including fear, sadness, anxiety, humiliation, and depression. Your attorney can guide you as to the specific ways in which your situation meets this criterion.
Sexual Assault Lawsuits Against Liable Third Parties
Sexual assault can occur in domestic violence situations, at college parties, and in a vast number of other settings. You can file a lawsuit against a third party who does nothing despite knowledge regarding the problems or risks of sexual assault. For example, campus sexual assault is highly prevalent. One in five women on college campuses are victims of sexual assault. Colleges and universities must protect other students against sexual assault. When there are no measures to protect against known risks, you can file a civil lawsuit against a third party for this failure. If you feel there were individuals in a position of authority who could have prevented the injuries, you should give this information to your attorney.
Recovering Compensation for Abuse Injuries in PA
The monetary award for the injuries caused during a sexual assault depends on the types of losses or damages suffered after the sexual assault. These damages can include the following:
- Compensatory damages, which relate to medical treatments, lost income due to absences from work, and any effect on earning capacity, emotional state, and general pain and suffering associated with sexual assault
- Punitive damages, which relate to punishment handed down if the wrongdoer’s conduct is deemed particularly egregious
Call Your Philadelphia Lawyer for Injuries After Sexual Assault
The physical and emotions injuries after a sexual assault can be extremely difficult in many ways. Individuals who were in the position of preventing sexual assault should be held accountable for their actions, in addition to those who committed the assault. The accomplished team of lawyers at the Reiff Law Firm will not stand for these inexcusable acts of violence and abuse, and they will be compassionate and relentless advocates on your behalf. To schedule an appointment, call us at (215) 246-9000.