As unfortunate as this statistic is, millions of Americans are impacted by sexual assault every year. Whether these incidents result in criminal convictions or not, the damaging effects are likely complex and lasting.
Fortunately, victims can file civil actions to help address losses suffered and assist with the recovery from physical and emotional harm experienced.
How a civil suit differs from a criminal action
When you hear about a sexual assault, you likely imagine the criminal case that takes place. Whether charges hold or not or the accused is convicted or not, the victim in the matter often must relive the anguish of the assault when they re-tell their story to law enforcement, attorneys or on stand during a trial.
No matter the outcome of the criminal case, the victim frequently feels revictimized repeatedly with each retelling of the events.
While a criminal trial carries a burden of proof that is beyond a reasonable doubt, a civil suit does not require this high burden of proof. The standard of proof in a civil action is a preponderance of the evidence.
Theories to sue under
When filing a lawsuit based on sexual assault, the victim files an action for a wrongful act that caused them harm. In sexual assaults, this could include assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment and other similar intentional torts.
The emotional and physical trauma caused by a sexual assault cannot be quantified, meaning that no amount of money will ever heal a victim of the harms suffered. Nonetheless, victims do have the option to seek compensation for these damages and should consider their legal and rights and options in the matter.