Sexual abuse and assault can happen to anyone. There is no defined set of rules to distinguish who will or will not be victims of these crimes. These crimes are devastating to those who survive them, the families affected by them, and the communities that they disrupt. In these cases, survivors may seek criminal charges and file civil lawsuits as a form of retribution for the crime against the perpetrator and anyone else liable.
There is often confusion when looking at cases that consist of sexual abuse and assault. These terms are often used interchangeably to describe the same types of violent offenses, but they are not the same. Cases labeled as sexual abuse describe offenses against vulnerable populations of people such as children, the elderly, and the disabled. Sexual assault cases are when one adult commits a sexually-motivated act against another adult without their consent.
By seeking the help of a skilled Irvine (Orange County) sexual abuse and assault lawyer, survivors may be able to file a lawsuit against a liable party.
Determining Liability in Sexual Abuse and Assault Cases
When preparing a sexual abuse or assault case, personal injury lawyers must prove the defendant’s liability in the case. Liability means that there was a duty of care required of the defendant. They neglected to follow through on this duty, making them as liable as the person committing the offense.
How Liability is Determined
In civil lawsuits, you often hear the word “liability.” Without an understanding of the word, it can be difficult to understand how civil lawsuits can be formed in this area of the law. In most instances, negligence is used to prove the liability of a party.
Most negligence is examined based on 1) does it fall below the standard of care that is expected of a reasonable person, and 2) did it cause harm to another person? To prove this negligence and liability, it must be proven that:
- The defendant owed a legal duty to the plaintiff
- The plaintiff must prove that the defendant breached this legal duty
- The negligence of the defendant but be what caused the harm or injuries within the case
- The plaintiff must show that they incurred monetary damages as a result of the negligence
Many of the damages that are pursued in these cases include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. In sexual abuse or assault cases, a judge will often listen to the testimony of the survivor before determining if a jury trial should be the next step.
What Should A Victim Do?
If someone is the victim of sexual abuse or assault, there are steps that should be taken to ensure that they get the help they need and the justice they deserve.
- Speaking to the authorities as soon as possible after being sexually abused or assaulted is the recommended course of action for a survivor to take. Those who are in immediate danger or injured should not hesitate to call 911.
- Seek out someplace that is considered safe. Reaching out to someone a survivor trusts could be the difference between getting away from a situation or remaining in danger.
- Reach out for help and support. California has many hotline options available for survivors, or you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.565.4673 for help. Advocates are often available to help direct a survivor in the right direction. Many survivors are still in shock at this point and do not know what they should do.
- File a police report and seek medical attention. A medical professional can help to bring in law enforcement to file a report when a survivor is seeking their medical attention. Medical attention also helps with the preservation of evidence in the case.
- Hire an attorney. Legal advocates can help in handling the case against the defendant (criminal cases and civil cases). In many circumstances, these legal professionals try to take as much of the case burden off of the survivor’s shoulders as possible.
How Sexual Abuse and Assault Lawyers Can Help
Going through a traumatic experience, like sexual abuse or assault, can make it hard for a survivor of the act to go through daily life. The trauma may cause problems like losing wages, therapy costs, and other monetary damages. Even though California was one of the first states to implement a victims compensation program, there are times when seeking damages from the liable party means more than the money that comes from winning the case.
California’s Victims Compensation Program
For those survivors of sexual abuse or assault that cooperate with law enforcement, a fund was created in 1965 that may help with expenses. There are over 22 locations that contain staff members who review eligibility and make a determination on the payments made to survivors of these criminal acts.
The maximum benefit award is $70,000 and may cover expenses such as:
- Medical expenses – these are compensated at medicare rates and 75% coverage for dental services
- Mental health services – these are typically limited to 40 visits each for direct and indirect survivors of sexual abuse or assault
- Lost wages/support – often limited to five years after the crime was committed unless permanently disabled, at that point, the $70,000 maximum would go into effect
- Up to $7,500 for funerals
- Moving expenses – up to $2,000 one time based on the recommendation of a therapist or police
- Rehabilitative services – job retraining and home or vehicle modifications for those with permanent disabilities
- Attorney fees – the lesser of 10% of the award or $500
- Emergency payments – any eligible expenses that are of immediate need and the survivor would sustain substantial hardship without it
Hiring Legal Counsel
When hiring a lawyer who specializes in these types of cases, they handle things for the survivor. Going over the case multiple times can be even more traumatic, so most of the lawyers who specialize in these cases only require the survivor to relive the event when absolutely necessary, like before the judge.
All of the legal paperwork is handled on behalf of the survivor by the legal firm, as is the filing of motions to begin the court process. In most cases, the survivor of sexual abuse or assault will not be required to tell their story in open court unless it goes to trial. In trial situations, the survivor would be required to share with the jury what occurred. Understanding the delicacy of the situation protects the survivor at all costs during the process.
The court may offer the following types of orders for relief:
- An order that restrains the attacker from abusing the victim and other members of the family
- An order that directs the attacker to leave a household
- An order that prevents the attacker from entering the residence, school, business, or place of employment for the victim
- An order that awards the victim or other parent custody or visitation with a minor child or children
- An order restraining the attacker from molesting or interfering with minor children in the custody of the victim
In California, resources are available to help the victims/survivors of sexual abuse and assault seeking help. From hotlines to restraining order infolines, assistance is available by simply picking up the phone.
TorkLaw is Orange County’s Sexual Abuse and Assault Lawyers
With a population of 3,175,410 people, Orange County is the third-largest county in California. There are approximately 1,604,210 women in the county and 1,563,830 men. CDC facts indicate that more than 1 in 3 women has experienced sexual violence that involved physical contact at some point in life. Nearly 1 in 4 men have experienced sexual violence that involves physical contact during their lives. In a large population, the statistics are high that sexual abuse and assault are more common than anyone realizes.
TorkLaw recognizes that victims of these traumatic events exist. While some may keep the event to themselves, there is help available (medically, mentally, and legally). As your first choice for personal injury legal counsel in Orange County, TorkLaw is here to help recover the economic and non-economic damages sustained due to a sex crime. We help determine liability and petition for the monetary compensation that you are due.
If you or a loved one has suffered at the hands of someone who committed a violent sexual crime, there may be compensation due. Our expert legal team helps procure the monetary compensation due to survivors and their families in these cases. We help our clients recover lost wages, medical bill payments, pain and suffering, and much more.
TorkLaw offers FREE and confidential no-obligation case consultations for the victims of sexual abuse or assault. We understand the delicacy of the situation and how hard coming forward against your attacker can be. We are here for you every step of the way to ensure you are safe during the court process.
We are available by phone at 888.845.9696 or through our online contact form, and we are ready to help you with your case. For your FREE and confidential case consultation, contact TorkLaw today.