More than 54% of Maryland women have been or will be sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. Typically, the perpetrator is someone the victim knows, and not a stranger. As an example, sexual assault committed against their patients by health care providers, including physicians, is not uncommon. Unfortunately, only about 40% of sexual assaults are reported to authorities. This is due in large part to the shame, fear, and stigma associated with being a sexual assault victim.
Sexual assault is a broad term in the legal world that can apply to anything from unwelcome touching to rape. The exact definitions of sexual assault, sexual abuse, and harassment varies from state to state. While sexual assault is a crime and an offender will face criminal action from the state, the victim will be able to pursue damages through a civil action. It’s crucial to know what to expect from these situations, and the team at Murphy, Falcon & Murphy is here to help our clients in the Baltimore area handle their sexual assault, sexual abuse, or sexual harassment cases. If you’ve been a victim of sexual assault in Maryland, contact our office today.
Sexual assault can have serious and long-ranging consequences, from physical to emotional. Many different types of sexual violence exist, and a victim may file a claim for economic and non-economic damages that result from many different types of acts, including:
A victim of a sexual assault can still file a civil lawsuit against his or her alleged attacker while a criminal case is in motion. Sexual assault is a crime and the state handles prosecutions for crimes, but it is still an intentional tort that can form the basis of a civil lawsuit.
Victims of sexual assault often struggle with guilt, shame, fear, and a range of other negative emotions following an act of sexual violence. Taking the proper steps after an attack of a sexual nature can help the victim find justice and begin the healing process:
Sexual assault incidents typically lead to both criminal and civil actions. The state brings criminal charges against a defendant, while the victim files a civil action to pursue damages. It’s important to remember that the evidence in both cases can apply to both cases, and the ruling in one may influence the other. Criminal charges ensure that someone who has broken the law repays his or her debt to society but does not seek compensation for victims.
A victim of a sexual abuse or assault can recover medical expenses, compensation for pain and suffering, and other damages by filing a civil claim, and the criminal charges against the defendant from the state will hopefully prevent him or her from engaging in the same behavior again. Succeeding in this type of claim, which runs alongside a criminal case from the state, is likely if the prosecution in the criminal case secures a conviction. The plaintiff in the personal injury case against the offender can point out this verdict in the civil trial to indicate the defendant is responsible for the plaintiff’s damages.
It’s vital for victims of sexual assault to understand the potential risks and rewards of filing a civil action against an offender. The case may be open-and-shut, and the offender may receive a guilty verdict from the criminal case and the judge reviewing the civil trial may rule in favor of the plaintiff, but this still may not help the plaintiff. If the offender goes to prison, he or she will likely be unable to pay any compensation awarded to the plaintiff in the civil trial. Sexual abuse and sexual assault are heinous offenses, so a jury is likely to award a great deal of compensation to the plaintiff. However, unless the offender is quite wealthy, the plaintiff will likely receive very little in compensation.
Many personal injury attorneys offer their clients contingency-fee pricing, meaning the client only pays legal fees if the attorney wins his or her case. In sexual assault cases resulting in little to no monetary award for the plaintiff, the plaintiff will still have to pay legal fees. Ultimately, it’s up to the plaintiff to decide whether filing a lawsuit would be the best move, and an attorney can advise regarding these situations.
The attorneys at Murphy, Falcon & Murphy in Baltimore have cultivated one of the strongest reputations in the area, and our firm has helped recover more than $700 million in compensation for our clients. A sexual assault case can be physically and emotionally damaging, and victims need to understand their rights and options for legal recourse after suffering these types of attacks.
Reach out to the team at Murphy Falcon Murphy today for a consultation about your sexual assault case. After we review the details of your situation, we can let you know what to expect from filing a lawsuit.