After a devastating sexual assault, there are two types of court cases that are possible to seek accountability. Criminal cases must be brought by the government, and in these cases, the perpetrator can be charged with specific criminal offenses related to sexual assault. If a perpetrator is found guilty of sexual assault or pleads guilty, that perpetrator can face criminal consequences that can include prison time.
Differently, a civil lawsuit does not result in criminal consequences but instead allows the survivor to seek a civil remedy. The two types of cases are not mutually exclusive: you may file a civil lawsuit regardless of whether criminal charges are brought against the perpetrator. Why would you file a civil lawsuit? Consider some of the following benefits of a sexual assault civil claim.
Acknowledge the Perpetrator’s Guilt and Seek Civil Punishment
Many survivors of sexual assault want to file a civil lawsuit in order to acknowledge the perpetrator’s guilt civilly and to punish the perpetrator for wrongdoing. While your lawsuit cannot result in criminal consequences, it can result in the perpetrator being found responsible in a civil court and being required to pay damages to you. In addition to compensatory damages, a plaintiff in a sexual assault case can also seek punitive damages, which are expressly awarded to punish the defendant for egregious wrongdoing.
Tell Your Story for Healing Purposes
By filing a civil lawsuit, you will have an opportunity to tell your story in court. For many survivors of sexual assault, the process of telling one’s story can produce healing from the trauma, according to The Survivor’s Trust. Survivors can also experience a sense of emotional empowerment by telling their stories in an open venue and receiving support from friends and family, and other members of their community.
One of the primary benefits of filing a civil lawsuit after a sexual assault is that it can allow the survivor to recover monetary damages. As we noted above, in acknowledging the perpetrator’s guilt and seeking civil punishment, a person who has been sexually assaulted may be eligible to obtain a range of damages, including compensatory and punitive damages.
It is important to keep in mind that a civil lawsuit can name the perpetrator of the assault, but other parties could also be liable. For example, the property owner of the premises where the sexual assault occurred could be partially responsible due to negligent security, and the survivor of the assault could be eligible to file a claim against that party without ever having to face the perpetrator again. Financial recovery can be critical because it can often give a survivor time away from their job to heal and to get the physical and psychological treatment they need, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Contact a Georgia Sexual Assault Lawyer Today
If you survived a sexual assault in the Atlanta area, you should seek advice from an experienced Atlanta sexual assault attorney about filing a civil lawsuit. Whether or not criminal charges have been brought against the perpetrator, you could be eligible to file a civil claim against one or more parties. Contact Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys online or call our firm to learn more about how we can assist you.