Have you been sexually assaulted? Did you need medical treatment to treat any physical injuries you may have suffered? Have you sought the support and guidance of a therapist or mental health professional to help you recover from your assault? If so, you are not alone.
In 2011, rape crisis centers in California treated more than 31,700 victims of sexual assault. The California Coalition Against Sexual Assault estimates that there are nearly 10 million sexual assault victims currently living in the state of California. As a victim of sexual assault, you may be able to recover financial compensation from your attacker by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
The Los Angeles sexual assault attorneys at Citywide Law Group understand that speaking up about sexual assault is a difficult thing to do. However, we also understand that sexual assault victims often have to seek medical attention, emotional therapy, and can even lose the ability to work. These consequences of a sexual assault can be financially costly.
For 17 years, our personal injury lawyer Sherwin Arzani has helped victims of sexual assault recover the compensation they need to cover these (and other) costs. For more information, do not hesitate to contact our Los Angeles office to arrange a free, private consultation.
What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault is a broad term that covers a wide variety of sexually-based behaviors. Sexual assault is essentially any unwanted sexual touching. The sexual contact must be harmful or offensive and done without the victim’s consent. Offensive contact is that which “offends a reasonable sense of personal dignity.”
Sexual assault can include:
- Inappropriate touching;
- Forced oral sex; and
- Penetration with any object.
Violent crimes of sexual assault often involve punching, kicking, scratching, biting, hitting, and other forms of battery. These behaviors can cause severe physical and emotional injuries.
Liability in a Sexual Assault Personal Injury Case
Victims of sexual assault in Los Angeles may be able to hold the perpetrator and other individuals responsible in a civil lawsuit. A successful sexual assault lawsuit will prove that:
- The attacker intended to cause harmful or offensive sexual contact;
- Without the victim’s consent; and
- Harmful or offensive sexual contact occurred (directly or indirectly).
Liability is not limited to the victim’s attacker. There are certain situations where employers may be held responsible for the actions of an employee. If the attacker held a position of power or authority (e.g., law enforcement officer, corrections officer, school employee, coach, clergy member), an employer could be considered to be negligent for failing to keep the public safe.
Damages in a Los Angeles Sexual Assault Case
Victims of sexual assault in Los Angeles are entitled to recover both economic and non-economic damages in a civil claim. Medical expenses, emotional distress, and lost wages are among the most frequently requested damages in sexual assault cases.
A sexual assault can result in serious and even life-threatening injuries. Victims may require extensive medical treatment after a sexual assault in Los Angeles. Medical expenses that a victim of sexual assault may encounter include:
- Emergency medical transportation;
- Prescription medication;
- Consultations with specialists;
- Reconstructive surgery; and
A victim of a sexual assault in Los Angeles will have to live with the memory of the attack for the rest of their life. Recovery can require emotional support and counseling from trained and licensed professionals. Many times, these costs are not covered by insurance and can become extremely expensive. Victims should not be forced to deal with the reality of their sexual assault without proper therapeutic treatment. Fortunately, damages recovered through a personal injury lawsuit can help to compensate for:
- Emotional distress;
- Pain and suffering;
- Mental anguish;
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
Lost Wages or Reduced Earning Capacity
Physical and emotional trauma can make it difficult or impossible for victims of sexual assault to work. In some situations, victims may be forced to miss time at work because of serious physical injuries. Other times, victims may not be able to work as much as they used to because of the emotional trauma they endured. A lawsuit for damages can help to make up for these lost wages.
Parallel Civil and Criminal Sexual Assault Cases
Sexual assault is both a criminal offense and a civil wrong. This means that an attacker can be prosecuted for the sexual assault by the state and face civil consequences in a personal injury lawsuit filed by the victim. While the subject matter for each case is the same, the outcome of a particular proceeding will not have an impact on the other.
So, just because an attacker is found guilty or not guilty in a sexual assault criminal trial, it does not mean that the same result will occur in a civil claim for damages.
When a criminal proceeding and a civil case are both happening at the same time, it is possible to get a court order to pause one temporarily. In many cases, the defendant who is named in both cases will request to have the civil proceedings suspended until the criminal case is completed.
California courts have held that “when both civil and criminal proceedings arise out of the same or related transactions, an individual is entitled to a stay of discovery in the civil action until disposition of the criminal matter.” This does not mean that a victim’s civil claim for damages will not be permitted. It just means that you may have to wait until the criminal proceedings wrap up before your claim for damages can begin. There are, of course, exceptions to this general rule.
How a Los Angeles Sexual Assault Attorney Can Help
At Citywide Law Group, we understand that sexual assault can be difficult to talk about. We know that the memory of a sexual assault can be difficult to live with. We want to help you recover the compensation you both need and deserve after your attack.
Together, we can get you the help you may need while holding your attacker fully accountable for his/her actions.
One of the most important aspects of a sexual assault claim for damages is a thorough and in-depth investigation. Our attorneys will comb through any and all evidence and information that may be relevant to your case. The more information we are able to uncover, the greater the chances of maximizing the damages you are awarded. An investigation may include:
- Reviewing police reports, crime scene photos, diagrams, and official statements;
- Interviewing witnesses, law enforcement officials, medical professionals, mental health professionals, friends and family, and anyone else who may have valuable insight about your attacker’s demeanor and state of mind;
- Analyzing evidence;
- Consulting with expert witnesses; and
- Reviewing your medical evaluation reports.
Using this information, your Los Angeles sexual assault attorney will develop a case against the attacker. This case will highlight the extent of the injuries you suffered, the financial costs you have endured, and the emotional distress the sexual assault has caused you.
Experienced Los Angeles Sexual Assault Attorneys
If you have been sexually assaulted in Los Angeles you may be able to recover financial compensation for your injuries. The amount of time you have to file a claim for damages is limited, so it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as you can.
The experienced Los Angeles sexual assault attorneys at Citywide Law Group understand the emotional and physical trauma you may have suffered. We would be glad to meet with you for a free, private consultation. The consultation will give you a chance to learn about the process involved in recovering compensation and why it may be helpful to you. If you are in need of counseling or services, we would be happy to connect you with an experienced mental health professional to help you through this difficult time. Contact our office today to learn more.
If you are in need of counseling or services, we would be happy to connect you with an experienced mental health professional to help you through this difficult time. Contact our office today to learn more.