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Civil lawsuits are typically the most direct way for a sexual assault victim to receive compensatory damages from the alleged attacker. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Daniel P. Hartstein have over 22 years of experience compassionately representing Philadelphia victims of sexual assault in civil lawsuits.
Sexual assault is a traumatic experience. While victims should feel free to pursue criminal charges, it is important to remember that criminal cases are meant to punish the perpetrator. The purpose of a civil action is to make the sexual assault victim “whole” through monetary damages. Therefore, criminal cases and civil lawsuits have different goals. Our Philadelphia sexual assault attorneys can help you pursue the appropriate claim.
The Blackburn Center for Domestic & Sexual Violence defines sexual assault as “a wide variety of behavior including rape, incest, child sexual assault, ritual abuse, date and acquaintance rape, statutory rape, marital or partner rape, sexual exploitation, sexual contact, sexual harassment, exposure, and voyeurism.” The Blackburn Center also notes that “Sexual violence can happen to anyone — regardless of gender, race, age, socio-economic status, or religion.”
Typically, sexual assault lawsuits are brought as intentional tort lawsuits, such as assault and battery. Emotional distress claims may be added, depending on the facts. Claims are typically based on physical and/or emotional harm to the victim.
Third parties may be held liable in a civil suit. For example, if the assault happened at a bar, there may be some liability on the part of the bar owner. To determine whether a third party should be held liable for your assault, contact our Philadelphia office for a free consultation.
Every lawsuit has a burden of proof. In civil suits for sexual assault, the plaintiff must prove his or her case by a preponderance of the evidence, which is a lower threshold than criminal suits. Preponderance of the evidence essentially means more likely than not. In some cases, even where the perpetrator has been found not guilty in a criminal case, the defendant may still be held liable in a civil case. This does not necessarily mean that a civil case will be easier to prove, however.
As with all civil lawsuits, there is a statute of limitations, or time limit, for bringing a sexual assault claim. Victims over age 18 only have two years to file a claim, so it is crucial to seek immediate legal advice, or your claim may be time-barred, meaning you will not be able to pursue damages. Minors may bring a lawsuit within 12 years of their 18th birthday. This is known as minority tolling of the statute of limitations. If you have questions about whether time has run out to file your claim, please contact the Law Offices of Daniel P. Hartstein today for a free consultation. Our attorneys typically take cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t pay unless we are able to win damages for you.
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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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