Can You File a Personal Injury Lawsuit if You Have Been the Victim of Sexual Assault?
When we hear about instances of improper sexual conduct—rape, molestation or sexual abuse—we often hear only about the criminal prosecution. But can the victim of a criminal sexual act also seek damages in a court of law for any injury or loss suffered? Absolutely!
The Basis for a Civil Suit for Sexual Abuse
Personal injury claims can be based on intentional acts, on reckless behavior, or on a legal theory of negligence. With criminal sexual conduct, the civil action for damages almost always alleges that the perpetrator acted willfully or intentionally, and the lawsuit typically takes one of two forms:
- A claim of assault and battery
- An assertion of intentional infliction of emotional distress
Under the law, assault and battery take somewhat different forms. To show assault, a victim need only show that another person acted in a way that caused the victim to reasonably fear or anticipate an immediate contact. The victim must also show that the anticipated contact was harmful or offensive. There does not need to be any actual contact for a person to be liable for assault. Battery, on the other hand, only occurs when there is an actual harmful or offensive contact. Typically, harmful or offensive is defined using the reasonable person standard, i.e., would a reasonable person consider the contact harmful or offensive.
To constitute intentional infliction of emotional distress, a person must typically engage in “extreme and outrageous” conduct that intentionally or recklessly causes severe emotional distress. An exception to this requirement exists, though. As a general rule, if the emotional distress is tied to another wrongful act, such as an assault, the victim may not need to show extreme and outrageous conduct.
Contact the Law Offices of J. Lewis & Associates
To discuss your legal needs with an experienced Riverside motor vehicle accident injury lawyer, contact our office online or call us toll-free at 1-800-228-0507. There is no charge for your initial consultation. Se Habla Espanol.