Sexual assaults happen in the United States far too frequently. By some estimates, every 107 seconds a sexual assault occurs in the U.S. Thanks to the pressure of many advocacy groups, there has been a decrease in the rate of sexual assaults over the past ten years, but the numbers remain problematically high.
The criminal justice system provides a mechanism for punishing perpetrators of rape and other types of sexual assaults. Punishment is warranted and necessary, but it doesn’t make the victims whole again; their lives simply aren’t the same as they were before the assault. Even worse, the criminal justice system is not always able to even find the perpetrator to ensure they are punished.
The civil justice system attempts make up for some of these shortcomings. It has its own unique set of remedies that can be exercised in combination with criminal remedies. Victims need not chose one system or the other. The two work harmoniously together and each provides a different type of relief. Contact our Fort Lauderdale Sexual Assault attorney for more information or help.Civil Claims Against the Perpetrator
Although victims’ compensation funds can offer some relief, the criminal justice system was designed to punish the perpetrator, not compensate the victim. In addition to violating criminal laws, sexual assaults also constitute civil wrongs. False imprisonment, intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress, assault, and battery are frequent bases for lawsuits against the perpetrator of a sexual assault. The perpetrator him or herself will held be financially responsible for the damages caused by their acts.Tort Actions Against Third Parties
As noted above, the perpetrator of a sexual assault cannot always be identified, and even when they are, they may not have sufficient assets to pay a civil judgment against them. In these cases, civil actions against a third party are sometimes a viable mechanism for receiving compensation for the wrongdoing.
Civil suits against third parties that did not take part in the sexual assault are based on negligence, and they allege that the third party failed to exercise reasonable care and that the failure contributed to the sexual assault. For example, a lawsuit might be brought against an apartment complex for a sexual assault that occurred in its parking lot where the complex failed to fix a street lamp for 9 months after being told that it was out. These types of claims have been brought against a wide array of third parties ranging from schools to hospitals to landlords.
There is a reasonable basis for believing that suits against third parties not only provide compensation to the victim, but also help prevent future sexual assaults and other crimes by providing an incentive for the third party to take reasonable care to help prevent crimes.To Learn More About Civil Options
Fort Lauderdale Sexual Assault attorney Mark S. Lowry can provide additional information on civil options for victims of sexual assault. Whether to file a civil lawsuit against a perpetrator or third party is a very personal choice for the victim. There is no right or wrong decision. Contact the office today to discuss your options.