Have you or a loved one been the victim of sexual assault in Tennessee, Florida, Arkansas or Mississippi? According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, there are as many as 80,000 reports of child sexual abuse each year. Many more instances of child sexual abuse occur each year and go unreported, sadly. According to some estimates, 15 to 25% of women and 5 to 15% of men are subjected to childhood sexual abuse. The annual cost of abuse in the United States, according to some estimates, is close to $94 billion.
Sexual assault is a problem that is gaining increased national attention as stories like Catholic priests who have been transferred from parish to parish despite a long history of sexual abuse against children or Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s decades long abuse of children at the Penn State football facilities have been gaining increased notoriety as more victims are choosing to come forward. Although perpetrators of sexual assaults can be criminally prosecuted, many victims of such heinous crimes do not realize that they can also seek to recover damages against both the perpetrator as well as in many cases the perpetrator’s employer through a civil lawsuit. In many cases, the perpetrator’s employer may have given the perpetrator access to the children or others whom the perpetrator went on to abuse or assault. Alternatively, in many cases the employer should or could have taken some sort of action to protect the perpetrator’s victims from the eventual assault but the employer failed to act. Although most states, including Mississippi and Florida, do have victim’s compensation funds that typically will provide some compensation to victims, these funds typically will not cover the emotional trauma and pain and suffering caused by a sexual assault. Therefore, a civil lawsuit often involves a victim’s best and only chance to truly recover the damages he or she has suffered as a result of a sexual assault.
Who is Legally Responsible in Civil Cases
Involving Sexual Assault?
The person who committed the sexual assault can be held legally responsible for the sexual assault. However, in many cases, a school, church, day care or other employer may have turned a blind eye to the actions of an employee who committed multiple instances of sexual assault. They may have done so by never firing the person despite a long history of complaints against the individual or ignored reports from a previous employer when hiring the perpetrator. This is because the perpetrators of these heinous actions often have a repeated history of committing such offenses. In many cases, their employers may actually have been aware of what was going on or simply ignored the warning signs that the perpetrator was committing sexual assaults. It is important to pursue the employer or other responsible party whenever possible because often the employer will have resources to satisfy a judgment and compensate a victim, whereas the perpetrator him or herself may not. In many instances, this will mean the difference between the victim receiving compensation for his or her injuries and not doing so.
What Damages Are Recoverable in a Civil Lawsuit Involving Claims of Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault can leave lasting psychological and emotional scars that can require years of intense psychological and other mental health treatment. These treatments are often expensive. The medical bills associated with such treatment are recoverable in a lawsuit related to a sexual assault against the perpetrator and/or his or her employer. A criminal court cannot order restitution payments for physical pain, suffering, and emotional trauma that the victim has suffered as a result of a sexual assault, so a civil lawsuit provides an avenue by which the victim can seek compensation for the emotional pain and suffering they have been forced to endure. Finally, a sexual assault victim can also recover any additional out of pocket costs he or she was forced to endure as a result of the sexual assault in a lawsuit against the perpetrator and/or his employer.
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