Do I Have a Case? The Different Types of Sexual Assault Cases Under Personal Injury Law
Jeffrey Breit—June 5, 2019
Sexual assault can cause overwhelming and difficult effects on the survivor, including emotional trauma and physical harm. A survivor shouldn’t have to endure this complicated and stressful time without the proper legal support that he or she needs.
In addition to the criminal action against the offender following an assault, survivors of sexual assault may have another legal remedy. The law may permit a civil legal action against their abuser in an effort to pursue justice and compensation. It’s important to know what types of sexual assault cases can be brought in a personal injury lawsuit.
Sexual Assault In the Workplace
You have a right to a workplace that is safe and free of sexual harassment or assault. That right does not only protect employees from harassment and assault by supervisors and managers, but it also includes protection from coworkers. It also protects you from having to suffer from a hostile environment, even if there is no physical sexual contact.
You may also have experienced employers who have tried to use their power, as well as the potential of terminating your status as an employee, to coerce or force you into an uncomfortable position. The employer may have said that if you reported the assault, you would be fired. The employer can be held accountable for this.
In some situations, if a co-worker is responsible for the sexual assault and the employer tries to hide it, ignores reports that an incident occurred, or fails to take action in response to earlier reports of abuse, they can also be held accountable for this type of action and the victim can sue both the employee and the employer for the assault.
Sexual Assault In Hospitals
Patients who are in a weakened state or facing major health trauma are, unfortunately, some of the most vulnerable because of their health issues. They trust that they’re going to receive the utmost care and respect in a healthcare facility, but sometimes this trust is broken.
While a majority of healthcare professionals would never abuse their position of trust, unfortunately, there are some doctors, nurses, and other staff members—and even other patients or visitors—who may try to take advantage of those who are severely injured, dealing with mental health conditions, having trouble speaking, or are otherwise vulnerable. They may expect that the individual cannot report the assault.
In addition to the perpetrator, the hospital who employs them can also be held responsible for their acts.
Hospitals can also be responsible for sexual assault that occurs on their premises, even if it doesn’t involve an employee of the hospital. For example, if a sexual assault occurs in a parking structure, the hospital may be held responsible for negligent security and the survivor can take action.
Sexual Assault In the Church
In a place of worship, the clergy are highly-respected and trusted, especially by those of a young age. When the clergy takes advantage of the trust that individuals have in them, it’s often something that can be difficult and complicated to comprehend.
Unfortunately, there is a sordid history of clergy members and acts of sexual assault. Those who may be guilty of sexual assault can include clergy, employees, or volunteers, and the assault can occur on the grounds, on a missionary trip, or in any situation when the attacker has an opportunity to take advantage of the victim.
Protecting yourself in these situations requires you to recognize various signs of assault.
Some ways to protect yourself include:
- Trust your instincts if you feel something is not right in a situation
- Understand that even people of position can be guilty of assault
- Let others in your group know where you’ll be going and who you’ll be with
Over the past decade, many survivors have come forward to take action against those who have used their position to betray the trust of innocent individuals.
Sexual Assault In Nursing Homes
Nursing homes have encountered a number of problems regarding abuse and neglect. The residents of these facilities are especially vulnerable when nursing homes are understaffed and lacking in strong leadership and accountability.
Many of the residents in nursing homes are bed-ridden, some experience mental health issues, are physically weak or incapable of fighting back, suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s and other severe health issues. As unfortunate as it is to think about, these conditions can make them vulnerable to serious harm from an unscrupulous staff member, another resident, or even a visitor.
Residents who are sexually assaulted by a staff member can take action against the staff member themselves, as well as the nursing home as a whole for their failure to keep the resident safe from harm while under their care.
Sexual Assault At Hotels
When you check into a hotel, you expect that the process will be safe and easy. Unfortunately, many of those who check into hotels give quite a bit of information that makes them vulnerable, such as what room they’ll be staying in and who they’re staying at the hotel with—including if they’re alone. Additionally, the staff of the hotel all have the ability to access a guest’s room at any time.
Hotels in Virginia have certain obligations to protect their guests. When they fail in their duties and their guest is assaulted on their premises by an employee or agent, they can be held responsible.
Sexual Assault In Apartment Complexes
There are several unfortunate situations that can arise in an apartment complex that can put someone at risk for serious harm. Even worse is the potential for the victim to experience sexual assault in a place where they’re supposed to feel safe and free from harm.
In an apartment complex, sexual assault can occur in various situations, such as from a maintenance worker, or in a situation where the grounds do not have proper security and the survivor is attacked by someone on the premises.
Holding apartment building owners responsible for sexual assaults that occur on-site are challenging. We have experience from past cases to successfully navigate these challenges and help victims secure the compensation they deserve following sexual assault.
Unfortunately, many survivors of sexual assault are unsure of their rights. They can sometimes go through numerous instances of sexual assault involving the same person simply because they fear what may happen if they report the incident(s).
It’s important to know that you have the right to pursue legal action against the party responsible for sexual assault, as well as the party for whom the offender is employed. If you have been victimized by sexual assault, it’s imperative to take specific steps:
- Report the incident to police
- Get medical attention as soon as possible
- Be sure to seek out and obtain both physical and emotional care for your injuries
- Speak with an attorney who has experience helping victims of sexual assault seek justice and get the compensation they deserve.
Our team at Breit Cantor Grana Buckner has spent numerous years representing the rights of sexual assault victims and holding the responsible parties accountable. Not only is this a heinous act, it is also a criminal act and should be treated in a serious manner.
The criminal outcome of the legal matters can help if the individual pleads guilty; however, a not guilty verdict in a criminal action does not mean that you can’t still recover compensation. We can help you understand your rights.
Compensation serves multiple purposes to you as a survivor of sexual assault. First, you hold the individual and/or organization fully accountable for the actions that occurred, creating change in their care of others, and preventing others from encountering the same fate. Second, you may receive compensation to help you recover from the damages that you have experienced, as well as the care you may need moving forward.
Work with our Virginia sexual assault injury lawyers to put your rights and best interests first. We’re here for you every step of the way. In a time where trust is not something you’re easily willing to give, we’re here to earn it by showing you how we protect your rights and going the extra mile to get you the justice you deserve.
He’s driven to be the best and has had far-reaching accomplishments that will be felt for years to come. Throughout a successful career as a personal injury lawyer in Virginia Beach and the larger state of Virginia, Jeffrey Breit has continued to work hard to improve the reputation of attorneys representing injured people as well as training the next generation of trial lawyers.