Should You Sue For Sexual Assault?
If you have experienced a sexual assault, you may be feeling overwhelmed and unsure about where to start looking for support. It can be daunting to contemplate pursuing criminal charges and going through the ordeal of a trial, and thinking about filing a civil lawsuit to obtain monetary damages may be the absolute last thing on your mind.
However, there are many benefits to bringing a civil lawsuit, including comprehensive financial compensation for your suffering and payment for all past and anticipated future medical treatment. For many survivors of sexual assault, healing becomes a lifelong process, and being able to access and afford quality medical care and therapeutic services can be massively helpful and a huge relief. Bringing a lawsuit is one way of ensuring that you have the financial means to support your own healing following such a malicious attack.
Criminal versus Civil Systems
If someone has broken the law, the criminal justice system is available to penalize and rehabilitate them through fines, prison, probation, and other methods. But, the criminal justice system is very focused on the criminal. While California does have some statutes that provide restitution to victims of sexual assault, the amounts are comparatively small and serve as more of a penalty to the criminal as opposed to being truly restorative financially for the survivor. This is where civil law comes in. Civil lawsuits are available to help restore some sense of normalcy to the survivor by providing financial assistance to defray certain costs as a result of having been assaulted or abused. For instance, time missed from work or other lost income potential, medical bills and treatment, the cost of past and future therapy, and compensation for intangible damages like pain and suffering. It’s important to note that your decision to press criminal charges and to file a civil lawsuit are not mutually exclusive. You are absolutely free to do both. This allows you to hold the criminal accountable legally while also putting yourself back in a strong financial position from which to move forward.
Another important consideration between the criminal and civil court systems is the evidentiary standard applied. In criminal cases, you must prove your claim beyond a reasonable doubt. However, in civil court, you must only show that a preponderance of the evidence supports your claim. This means that in civil court you must only establish that your claim is more likely than not to have occurred in order to succeed and recover. For this reason, many people who are intimidated by the harsh legal standard of criminal court, choose to instead pursue remedy through civil court.
Contact an Experienced San Jose Sexual Assault & Abuse Lawyer
If you are suffering due to sexual assault, abuse, harassment, sexual bullying, or inappropriate sexual contact, you do not have to shoulder the burden alone. The experienced San Jose sexual assault and abuse lawyers at the Costanzo Law Firm are here to help you navigate this process, zealously advocate on your behalf, and ensure that your get the compensation that you are legally entitled to. Schedule a consultation today, and receive a free case evaluation.