Can a victim of sex assault or sex abuse recover financial compensation for pain and suffering?
This is one of the most important questions in a civil lawsuit for sex assault or sex abuse. Victims of sex assault or abuse experience a profound level of pain and suffering which is altogether different from the pain and suffering experienced by someone who breaks their leg in a car accident. Sex assault and abuse leave deep scars. Victims often suffer for years and even decades.
The Law of Pain & Suffering
There is no easy way to determine whether a victim can recover for their pain and suffering. Rather, the answer depends on a whole host of factors including:
- the nature of the assault/abuse,
- the extent of physical injuries, if any,
- whether there were any resulting financial losses,
- whether there was past medical or mental health treatment, and
- whether there is a need for ongoing medical or mental health treatment.
Strength of the Case – Evidence of Negligence
It’s important to note that in a lawsuit for sex assault or abuse, the victim has a better chance of receiving financial compensation if there is solid evidence of wrongdoing. Let’s consider two examples to explain this point.
Case 1: sex abuse case involving a pre-school. There is evidence that the criminal perpetrator, who was an employee, had previously abused other children. More importantly, there is credible evidence that the pre-school owner covered up prior reports of abuse, for fear of sparking a criminal investigation.
Case 2: sex assault case against a residential apartment complex. There is evidence that the criminal perpetrator was a tenant who lived in the same building as the victim. There is no evidence that the landlord had any reason to anticipate the assault. In fact, there is no evidence of any complaints filed against the perpetrator-tenant prior to the assault.
Comparing these two cases, it’s clear that there is solid evidence of negligence (wrongdoing) in the first case. In the second case, there is no evidence of negligence against the apartment complex/landlord. Therefore, the victim in the first case has a better chance of succeeding, thus getting financially compensated. The reality is that the stronger the case, the better the chance of getting financial compensation. Rarely, the strength of a given case is determined at the outset of a case. Instead, it’s only after a thorough investigation that the strengths or weaknesses of the case become apparent. That’s why it’s so important to seek advice of an experienced sex assault victims’ lawyer. The sooner the better.
Financial Compensation – Where Does it Come From?
Getting a large verdict in a case doesn’t mean that the victim will actually get financially compensated. At least one of the parties who was found liable must be financially capable of paying that judgement or at least, part of it. Criminal perpetrators rarely have the means to pay financial judgements in civil lawsuits. But, if a party is covered by some kind of insurance, then the victim has a much better chance of actually receiving compensation. In the two examples above, the school and the residential landlord probably have coverage through a commercial insurance policy. Most businesses do. When an assault or other crime occurs on the insured property or is committed by an employee, the insurance policy may apply, assuming there is evidence that the insured business was negligent. Going back to our cases above. In the first case, there is ample evidence of negligence. Therefore, the school’s insurance policy would kick in and provide a source of recovery for the victim.
Recent News: Father John Sweeney from Greensburg Diocese Charged with Sex Abuse of 10 Year Old Boy in Pennsylvania (July 26, 2017)
Types of Claims for Financial Compensation
In any injury lawsuit, including lawsuits for sex assault or abuse, the plaintiff (victim) has the legal right to make a claim for any damages caused by the conduct of the defendant(s).
The damages may be economic or non-economic. Economic damages are financial losses such as medical bills, lost wages, and out of pocket expenses. Non-economic damages are the mental anguish, emotional harm and physical pain caused by an accident or injury.
In most sex assault or sex abuse lawsuits, the claims usually include mental health treatment costs and pain and suffering. There may be claims for medical treatment costs and lost wages, if applicable.
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Lawyers Who File Sex Assault or Abuse Lawsuits
Our lawyers are licensed in multiple states and handle sex assault and abuse lawsuits against schools, churches, medical facilities and more. If you’d like to speak to your crime victim lawyers, call 800.220.7600 for a FREE CONSULTATION.
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