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Can a Sexual Assault Be the Basis of a Personal Injury Suit?

Posted on - Monday, October 3, 2016 under FAQ, Personal Injury Can a Sexual Assault Be the Basis of a Personal Injury Suit?

Sexual assault is a serious and ongoing problem on our nation’s college campuses and elsewhere. Educators and advocates are raising awareness and attempting to change attitudes, while law enforcement and prosecutors vigorously pursue criminal charges and harsh punishments for those accused of this crime. For victims of sexual assault, the hope is that justice will be swift and strong, but the pain and injuries from such a violation – physical, emotional, and psychological – can last far longer than any jail sentence handed down.

Sexual assault victims, like victims of other “intentional torts,” have the same right to seek damages and compensation for their injuries as do individuals who are hurt due to someone else’s negligent conduct.

Many intentional acts that can be the basis of civil personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits are also criminal offenses. The outcome of a personal injury lawsuit based on an intentional tort does not depend on the outcome of any criminal case based on the injury-causing act. They are two independent proceedings with different rules. What a Georgia prosecutor must prove to obtain a criminal conviction is different than what an injury victim must prove to obtain compensation.

First, the elements of a crime and the basis for awarding damages for an injury in a civil lawsuit are completely different. Proving that a criminal defendant violated the specific provisions of a criminal statute is different than proving the elements of a tort. For example, prosecutors don’t have to prove causation and damages, which are the basis of liability that a personal injury attorney would have to prove in a civil suit.

Second, prosecutors must prove all of the elements of their case “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In a civil lawsuit, however, the standard is lower – a plaintiff only need prove all of the elements of their claim by a “preponderance of the evidence.” These different standards mean that someone could be acquitted of a criminal offense and still be held liable for damages in a personal injury lawsuit arising from the same act.

If you have suffered injuries as the result of a criminal act, such as sexual assault, battery, or DUI, you may have a claim for damages. Consult with an experienced Georgia personal injury attorney who can evaluate your case and advise you of your options.

At The Parian Law Firm in metro Atlanta, Georgia, we represent injury victims exclusively and are committed to getting justice and compensation for our clients. Please contact us at (770) 727-5550 or chat live online with a member of our staff today.