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Making Civil Claims For Sexual Assault Victims


We often think of sexual assaults as criminal matters, and of course, they are. But if you are the victim of a sexual assault, you may also have a civil claim against the perpetrator, or other entities as well. These civil claims can get you the help that you need, which criminal cases often cannot.

Criminal and Civil Court

Criminal cases are designed to punish those who do wrong, and to protect society. Although victims do play an important role in the criminal justice system, it is the civil system that focuses on the victim, and what he or she has lost.

Many people don’t know that crimes like assault also can give rise to civil liability, and thus, payment for damages that you may have sustained if you have been the victim of a sexual assault.

Who Pays the Judgment?

In some cases, the perpetrator of the assault may not have assets sufficient to satisfy any judgment against him or her. A lone individual likely doesn’t have liability insurance that covers sexual assault. This can lead to collection problems when and if you ever do obtain a judgment.

Vicarious Liability

But sometimes, other entities, which do have coverage to pay and satisfy a judgment or settlement, may be liable for your injuries. This usually happens through what is known as vicarious liability. Vicarious liability is where one entity is liable for the actions of its agents (usually, its employees).

Employers of sexual abusers may be liable for failing to conduct thorough and complete background checks—or they may conduct the checks, and then ignore the results. Many times, those who commit assault give warning signs—in fact, other employees may have, in the past, warned the employer about the potentially dangerous employee.

When a company fails to do a background check, or fails to take action against an employee who is a potential danger, the company can be liable for negligent hiring, or negligent retention.

Negligent Security

Often, sexual assault doesn’t happen from someone we know, like a co-worker, but may be random. But if that random attack happens on a business’ property, the business may be liable for having poor or inadequate security.

Security guards, video cameras and proper lighting all need to be in place; when they aren’t, and an assault of any kind occurs, the business can be liable for negligent security practices.

Any institutional setting will also give rise to liability for sexual assaults. For example, a nursing home would have to protect its residents, and a day care would have to protect its children. When either of these groups are sexual assault victims, there is usually an entity or company that was supposed to protect them, which did not do so.

Have you been a victim of an assault or another crime, and feel someone may be liable to you for your injuries? Call the Clinton personal injury attorneys at Fox Willis Burnette, PLLC, for help.

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