A doctor in Louisiana was arrested earlier this month after a patient secretly recorded the doctor during a treatment session. The video captured the alleged acts of sexual abuse. The patient alleges that during a prior visit, the doctor made inappropriate sexual advances, thus prompting the patient to set up her cell phone camera on a second visit. The patient gave the video to police who then arrested the doctor.*
Below, our sex abuse victims’ lawyers discuss one of the most common questions victims have in cases when a medical professional is charged with sexual assault.
Sex Abuse by Medical Professionals: What’s the Difference Between Criminal Cases and Civil Lawsuits?
Victims of sexual assault by medical professionals like doctors, nurses and therapists are often confused about the legal process involved. There are two types of legal processes. One involves the criminal justice system and the other involves the civil justice system. The two systems operate independently of each other. There are many differences between the two cases, including time it takes to resolve, appeals process, etc. But for purposes of this article, our lawyers will discuss the primary difference between the two—how victims are treated.
Criminal System – Prosecuting Attorney Controls the Direction of the Case
In the criminal system, the victim will have certain legal rights, which vary from state to state. Most states have adopted a Victims’ Bill of Rights or something like it which specifically applies in criminal cases. They include things like the right to be notified of sentencing hearings or the right to have a victim advocate be present during certain hearings. Despite these types of rights, victims do not have control over the direction of criminal cases. Rather, the prosecuting office does. Whether to prosecute, how the case will be handled and whether to offer a plea or go to trial will be decided by the prosecuting attorney.
Civil System – Victim Has More Control
In the civil system, the victim retains much more control, particularly as it relates to concluding the lawsuit, i.e., settlement or trial. The victim’s attorney will make decisions about legal procedure, like where and when to file, what motions to file, etc., but the victim is empowered in terms of setting the ultimate goals of the case.
In addition, victims in civil lawsuits can obtain monetary compensation for all types of damages. While criminal laws of most states provide victims with the ability to seek restitution (usually limited to medical treatment) from a criminal defendant, the reality is that victims rarely see a dime. In a civil lawsuit, victims may be able to seek compensation for medical or psychological treatment, lost wages, out of pocket expenses and most importantly, pain and suffering.
Sex Abuse Victims Law Firm – Cases Handled Nationwide
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