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Feeling isolated? Believe you can’t possibly get the justice you deserve?
Survivors of sexual violence have a tough time knowing where to turn. You don’t have to do this alone. Your assailant may not have been punished in criminal court, but that doesn’t mean you don’t still have rights.
You also have the aftermath of the assault to deal with—medical visits, psychological visits, emotional trauma, lost wages and lost opportunities.
Often, the best way for sexual assault victims to get the help they need is to pursue a civil case.
Civil cases won’t put the perpetrator of your assault behind bars. However, it can win monetary damages which will help you put your life back together. Sexual assault victims are statistically more likely to win a civil case. For one thing, civil courts are not focused on guilt or innocence; they are focused on liability.
In criminal court, the perpetrator must be proven “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”
In civil court, the plaintiff must prove his or her case by “preponderance of evidence.” This means “more likely than not.” There is a gulf of difference between the two…whether something is “likely” is far easier to prove than whether an event took place “beyond reasonable doubt.”
Civil cases proceed very differently from criminal ones. One of the biggest benefits for sexual assault victims is the amount of control you’ll have throughout the process.
“Victims have greater control in a civil suit than in a criminal case because they are a party to the civil case, cannot be excluded from the courtroom, and have final approval of settlement proposals…The victim controls essential decisions shaping the case. It is the victim who decides whether to sue, accept a settlement offer, or go to trial.” –VictimsofCrime.org.
Civil suits also help you hold all responsible parties accountable. If your sexual assault case involved any parties who failed to act when they should have, who did not provide reasonable safety and security measures, or who otherwise contributed to the assault they, too, may be held liable for damages.
Restitution is a monetary amount a convicted criminal is ordered to pay to his victim. Restitution is often insufficient to cover the full extent of a survivor’s losses. Restitution payments are part of a criminal’s punishment.
By contrast, damages are meant to make you, the survivor, “whole” by virtue of giving you the resources you need to piece your life back together.
Sexaul assault victims in Pennsylvania may also receive aid from the Pennsylvania Crime Victim Compensation Assistance Program (VCAP). This fund exists to help victims of crime.
Awards are small: a maximum of $35,000 for out-of-pocket expenses, such as unpaid medical bills and lost wages.
Obviously, these amounts won’t go very far. They are meant to help, but they don’t even begin to touch most people’s recovery expenses. Thanks to these financial realities it’s often wise to pursue a civil suit even if you win your criminal case.
You won’t have to worry about out-of-pocket legal expenses at all. Daniel P. Hartstein is a compassionate victim’s personal injury lawyer who works on a contingency fee basis. Your consultation is free, and our offices only get paid when you do.
If you are over 18 you’ll want to move as quickly as possible as the statute of limitations on your case runs out two years after the date of the incident. In Pennsylvania, people sexually assaulted before age 18 have until their 30th birthday to bring a lawsuit. Call to make an appointment today. Daniel P. Hartstein has over 22 years of experience helping survivors like you. Get the help you need and the respect you deserve. Call (215) 732-0306 today.
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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create an attorney client relationship.
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