Earlier this month, accusations that movie producer Harvey Weinstein has been sexually assaulting women for decades rocked the nation. More than 40 Hollywood actresses and insiders have shared their stories. Many of these stories have struck a nerve with women in America. Over the past two weeks, women from around the country have been sharing their sexual assault stories with the hashtag #MeToo.
If you are a woman who has been the victim of sexual assault you may be entitled to compensation. An experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer at Citywide Law Group can help you fight to hold your abuser responsible for their actions. Filing a personal injury lawsuit can help you to recover compensation for the harm you have suffered. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
What is Sexual Assault?
In Los Angeles, sexual assault is both a crime and a civil wrong. This means that your abuser can face criminal charges for his/her actions. You also have the option of filing a civil claim for damages for the assault. The civil offense of sexual assault is described in California Civil Code Section 1708.5. A successful sexual assault lawsuit must establish and prove that:
- The defendant intended to cause harmful or offensive sexual contact;
- Harmful or offensive sexual contact occurred;
- You were harmed in some way (physically, emotionally, psychologically, etc.); and
- The defendant acted without your consent.
Sexual contact, for the purposes of sexual assault, includes touching or penetrating an intimate body part. Intimate parts are defined to include “sexual organ, anus, groin, or buttocks of any person, or the breast of a female.” Sexual contact will be considered offensive if it “offends a reasonable sense of personal dignity.”
Sexual assault is committed when someone else touches you in a sexually-explicit way without your consent. Consent is a crucial part of sexual assault. Consent means that you agree to engage in every aspect of an act. Consent must be particular and specific. There can be limits to your consent.
For example, let’s say you consent to allow someone to rub your shoulders. They begin by rubbing your shoulders, but their hands work their way to your breasts. Just because you have consented to some physical contact does not mean that you have consented to all physical contact. In this scenario, the consent you have given is limited to a specific act or area. Consent to one act does not mean that you consent to all acts. The abuser in this scenario could face criminal and civil charges for sexual assault because they exceeded the scope of consent.
It is important to know that consent can also be withdrawn. If you become uncomfortable or change your mind you are entitled to withdraw consent. Just because consent exists at one point in time does not mean that it exists forever. Consent must be given in full with each new encounter.
Proving Sexual Assault
Sexual assault can be difficult to prove. Acts of sexual assault are generally done behind closed doors. This means it can come down to a “he said, she said” argument. There are certain things you can do to support your case for sexual assault. Information and evidence that may be helpful in your civil sexual assault case include:
- Medical evaluations and reports;
- Testimony by mental health professionals;
- Witness statements and testimony;
- Eye-witness accounts; and
- Photographs and video.
The burden of proof in a civil sexual assault case is less than the burden of proof in a criminal case. This means that it can be easier to prove your case. Hiring an experienced Los Angeles civil sexual assault attorney to handle your case will increase your chances of success.
Damages in a Civil Sexual Assault Lawsuit
You can recover compensation in a civil Los Angeles sexual assault lawsuit if you suffer an injury or harm. The damages that you recover can be used to compensate for:
- Medical expenses;
- Mental health care;
- Emotional distress;
- Pain and suffering;
- Lost wages;
- Lost earning capacity; and
Contact an Experienced Los Angeles Civil Sexual Assault Attorney
If you have a #MeToo story about sexual assault you may be entitled to compensation. There is a limited window for filing a personal injury claim for sexual assault. In Los Angeles, claims must be filed within two years of the sexual assault. There are limited exceptions to this rule. However, it is important to act quickly. Contact our Los Angeles office today to schedule a free consultation. We will review your case, determine liability, and answer the questions you may have.