Sexual assault can result in physical and emotional trauma and have a long-lasting impact on survivors. The damage a sexual assault causes can also require extensive medical and psychological treatment that addresses the present and future pain and suffering that survivors must endure.
At Greenberg Gross, our Fresno sexual assault lawyers understand that assault survivors often feel confused, frightened, and alone. As a result, they may be reluctant to come forward, relive the trauma, and face their offender in court. If you have suffered a sexual assault, we want you to feel safe knowing we’re working hard to ensure the offender compensates you for their egregious misconduct. We can talk with you more about your legal options during a free case consultation today.
What You Should Do if You’ve Been Sexually Assaulted
If you are a survivor of a sexual assault that just occurred, you should call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room. According to the Fresno Police Department, you should not bathe or change clothes until a health provider examines you and a law enforcement officer contacts you.
What Are the Recoverable Damages in Fresno Sexual Assault Cases?
Sex crimes are criminally punishable under federal and state law. Also, sexual assault survivors may be entitled to pursue civil actions seeking damages for the many losses they suffer because of this crime.
Any person who has experienced a sexual assault, may be eligible for compensation, including the following:
- Medical expenses, including emergency care, hospital stays, and doctor’s visits
- Therapy and counseling costs
- Lost income for missed work or job loss due to the time needed for physical and emotional recovery
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish and psychological trauma
- Diminished quality of life
When Can I File a Lawsuit for Fresno Sexual Assault?
California has one of the longest statutes of limitations to file a lawsuit against a party liable for sexual assault. If your assault occurred on or after age 18 and before January 1, 2019, you have two years to file. If it happened on or after this date, you have 10 years from your assault date to file—or you have three years after discovering you were injured due to your assault, whichever comes later.
If your sexual assault occurred when you were a minor (under age 18), you could file a lawsuit until you turn 40 or within five years of discovering you experienced a psychological illness caused by the sexual assault as an adult.
As a result of California Assembly Bill 218, a three-year “revival” or “look back” window was created for adult survivors of child sexual abuse previously blocked by the statute of limitations. During this window, which is set to expire on January 1, 2023, these individuals can initiate a civil lawsuit against their perpetrators and other liable parties.
Who Can Be Liable in a Fresno Sexual Assault?
In California, you are entitled to pursue civil action against your offender and other responsible parties. In a sexual assault case, the perpetrator who assaulted you is primarily responsible for your injuries. Criminal charges or a conviction is not necessary to prove a perpetrator is liable for compensation in a civil case–but it can definitely help. A conviction may entitle you to submit evidence in court that the defendant was already found guilty of your assault.
That said, any third party or person, business, or institution whose negligence contributed to your sexual assault can also be liable in a sexual assault lawsuit. And often, these third parties are more financially capable of compensating you for the money the court orders them to pay.
What Is the Burden of Proof in a Fresno Sexual Assault Civil Action?
In a civil lawsuit, claims against a perpetrator need only be established by a “preponderance of evidence” and not “beyond a reasonable doubt,” like in criminal trials. This generally requires the court to find it was more likely than not that the accused party sexually assaulted the claimant. In a civil trial, only nine of 12 must agree that the defendant is liable, versus all 12 jurors in a criminal case.
Pursuing a Lawsuit Against Third Parties
More than one party can be held liable for compensating you, depending on the circumstances of your sexual assault case. Third parties that could be held responsible in a sexual assault civil case include the following:
- Educational institutions, such as public K-12 schools, private schools, colleges, and universities
- Government institutions, such as juvenile detention centers
- Sports or recreational organizations, such as scouting troops, summer camps, and youth and athletic clubs
- Hospitals and other medical centers
- Religious institutions
Duty of Care in Third-Party Sexual Assault Cases
Personal injury cases often require proof of negligence, starting with establishing a duty of care. This is a legal obligation that individuals and entities owe to others to avoid actions that would cause them injury. For example, schools owe their students a duty to ensure they are safe on the premises and that faculty or other students will not harm them.
Failure to fulfill a duty is also known as a “breach” or violation. This breach must then have proximately or directly caused a student’s injury. If you and your attorney can prove the injury led to quantifiable losses, you can establish negligence and liability.
A personal injury attorney who specializes in sexual assault and related cases can help you identify all liable parties and pursue them for the compensation you are due.
Call Us Today for Help from a Fresno Sexual Assault Lawyer
If you’ve been sexually assaulted, you can pursue the economic justice you deserve. Call Greenberg Gross today for a free, confidential consultation to learn more about our commitment to helping survivors secure compensation and reclaim their lives.