All too often, victims of sex abuse are unaware of their options under the law. For example, many are unaware that restraining orders and orders of protection can be put into place to aid in keeping them safe. Similarly, many are unaware that – distinct from any criminal consequences that their abusers may or may not face – they may be able to hold their abusers liable in civil court for the harm that they have inflicted.
Criminal vs. Civil Accountability
As an experienced Medford, OR serious injury lawyer – including those who practice at Andersen Morse & Linthorst – can confirm, a victim’s ability to hold an abuser liable in civil court is not in any way dependent upon the outcome of any charges that may or may not be filed against the abuser in criminal court. Meaning, an abuser does not need to be convicted – or even arrested – before a successful civil case can proceed. In the U.S., civil matters and criminal matters are wholly distinct.
It is also worth noting that civil cases are judged upon a much lesser standard of proof than criminal cases are. Therefore, it is often far easier to obtain some degree of justice in a civil courtroom than it is in a criminal courtroom. Perhaps the most famous modern example of this phenomenon is the multi-million dollar civil judgment ordered against O.J. Simpson for the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman. This judgment was ordered after Simpson was famously acquitted of these same murders in criminal court.
Filing a Civil Suit for Sex Abuse Injuries
Before you can be awarded personal injury compensation for your situation, you’ll need to prove that your abuser acted negligently, recklessly, or in intentionally harmful ways and that your injuries resulted directly from that conduct. You may be awarded compensation for both the physical harm you’ve endured, as well as pain and suffering and mental anguish.
It is also worth noting that if you suffered sex abuse due, in-part, to the negligent security of a property owner or property manager, you may also be able to hold them partially responsible for your harm. For example, if you were attacked (in-part) because of poor lighting and an absence of security personnel present on private or public property, you may be able to name those responsible for these challenges as defendants in your lawsuit too.
You’re Not Alone. Call an Attorney Today for Assistance
If you are a victim of sexual abuse, know that you do not need to weather the stresses of your legal situation alone. Personal injury attorneys who handle assault and battery injury cases can help you to clarify your rights and options under the law. You may be – very understandably – concerned about pursuing legal action, especially if your abuser is not incarcerated. Speaking with an attorney can help you to understand the potential benefits and drawbacks of taking legal action and how to do so safely.