Sexual Assault Lawyers in Virginia

Proven Injury Lawyers Serving the State Since 1979

Survivors of sexual assault face immense and often overwhelming physical and emotional costs as a result of someone else’s abhorrent actions. Through no fault of their own, victims are left dealing with the physical and emotional aftermath—often without the crucial support they need.

At Breit Cantor Grana Buckner, we handle civil cases of sexual assault, rape, or sexual harassment arising in the workplace, from criminal acts, or in other settings. Our highly-reputable attorneys are discreet, compassionate, and driven to pursue the justice our clients deserve. We believe in taking a stand for the victims of sexual abuse, and we have the experience and resources necessary to fight for you and win. If you or someone you love has been harmed as a result of sexual assault in Virginia, the attorneys at Breit Cantor can help you get justice.

What Is Considered Sexual Assault?

To put it simply, sexual assault is any form of sexual contact with a non-consenting adult, a child, a disabled person, someone who is not in control of their faculties due to drugs, alcohol, or sleep, or any other form of coercion or force used to get someone to engage in unwanted sexual acts. This can be physical, visual, verbal, or otherwise. Forms of sexual assault include:

  • Any sexual contact with a non-consenting person (including persons who are not able to provide their consent, a category which always includes children)
  • Coercing someone to pose for sexually graphic pictures
  • Persistent sexual harassment
  • Threats of a sexual nature
  • Rape or attempted rape
  • Molestation, fondling, or other unwanted or inappropriate touching

What to do if You’ve Been Sexually Assaulted

After experiencing sexual assault, it is imperative that you seek medical attention and find a safe place right away. Do not shower, bathe, change clothes, or otherwise change your appearance before seeking medical attention and asking a doctor to perform an HIV test, use emergency contraception, test you for sexually transmitted diseases and infections, and treat your injuries.

It is very important that you ask a doctor to have a sexual assault forensic examiner or nurse use a rape kit to collect evidence. Also inform your doctor if you fear you may have been drugged or sedated.

Then, call the police and speak to law enforcement about the assault and provide as much information as you can about your attacker, the assault, and any other information that would help police find and punish the person who harmed you. Afterward, get in touch with a Richmond sexual assault lawyer right away.

Criminal vs. Civil Sexual Assault Cases in Virginia

There is a lot of confusion regarding legal rights following a sexual assault. A common misconception is that the only legal aspect of this type of situation involves criminal proceedings in which the attacker is arrested and charged. If you have been a victim of sexual assault your first call should be the police.

After you have received medical care and are stabilized, you may wish to take action against the person who assaulted you by holding them accountable for their actions in a court of law. In many cases, bringing perpetrators to justice helps survivors of sexual assault find closure and regain a sense of safety. Though the prospect may be scary, speaking up about sexual violence and assault can keep the person who hurt you from doing the same to others and make the world a safer place.

Once your criminal matter is underway, a civil case can be pursued to bring compensation for the physical and emotional trauma experienced as a result of the heinous act. Understanding what rights you have to file a lawsuit against your attacker is extremely important to moving forward and pursuing the justice you deserve.

Filing a Civil Lawsuit Against a Perpetrator

Filing a civil lawsuit against the person who sexually assaulted you may be a good option in your case if you have experienced significant suffering, emotional distress, medical expenses, and other highly personal costs. Civil litigation allows you to recover damages from the person who hurt you and keep them on the hook for the tangible and intangible costs created through their abuse. By taking your attacker to court, you may be able to obtain compensation for:

  • Mental health counseling
  • Medical care
  • Lost wages
  • Emotional distress—and more.

Given the appalling and highly distressing nature of sexual crimes, judges and juries tend to side with victims and award, particularly high damages. This is often essential for sexual assault victims seeking to get their life back and regain normalcy through mental, medical, and personal care.

Recovering Compensation for Sexual Assault Survivors

While there can be serious mental and physical trauma associated with sexual assault, survivors can also face financial ramifications. The trauma can be difficult to overcome especially when considering the costs associated with medical care and therapy. Pursuing a claim for compensation can help survivors pay for the medical care and therapy they need and to make up for the emotional toll they continue to struggle with on a daily basis.

However, not everyone understands their rights to do so, nor do they recognize who can be held accountable. In many circumstances, the assailant is not the only source of recovery for a survivor. Often times, institutions and organizations are also responsible and can be held financially accountable for the harms caused the sexual abuse survivors.

Many situations involving sexual assault occur in settings or locations where the survivor’s safety should never have been in question. This could potentially make other parties besides the attacker liable, especially when it was the other party’s duty to ensure your care and safety on their premises. In these situations, the premises owner could be negligent, and the compensation can come from the insurance company who provides the premises owner with the insurance policy. Typically, there is a policy limit associated with the insurance, but there are variables that can impact how much compensation may be recovered.

In these cases, there are many things that need to be considered when determining compensation available to you. One of the biggest factors is the pain and suffering you have had to endure as a result of the sexual assault.

You may also be eligible to recover economic damages based on the losses you experienced financially. This can include expenses for medical bills, lost income and potential earnings, costs of therapy, and any other losses associated with a direct monetary value in the past and in the future.

At Breit Cantor Grana Buckner, we dedicate our efforts to the rights of those who have been mentally and physically affected as a result of sexual assault. We are passionate about helping survivors get the legal help necessary to move forward.

With our Virginia sexual assault attorneys, you can have confidence knowing we’re willing to go the extra mile on your behalf.

 Liable Parties in Sexual Assault Cases in Virginia

The perpetrator(s) of the sexual assault, or harassment may not be the only liable party in the eyes of the law. In Virginia, certain premises liability cases the owner or manager of a property can be liable for harmful incidents, including sexual assaults, that take place on the property. This is most often known as “negligent security,” in which the property owner fails to employ adequate security or conduct a proper background check to prevent sexual assaults, though this is not the only type of case in which the property owner may be liable.

It is often necessary to bring legal action against not only the assailant but also against third parties who may also be responsible for the sexual assault due to premises liability, such as:

  • Hotels: A sexual assault that occurs in a hotel may be at the hands of hotel security, maintenance or front-line staff members. The assault may also come from another guest. Regardless, the hotel is liable to protect individuals from sexual assaults occurring on their premises.
  • Hospitals: Sexual assaults can happen at times when individuals are most vulnerable and at risk. Nurses, doctors and other patients with ulterior motives can be responsible for sexual assault in a hospital setting that should otherwise be a safe harbor for help.
  • Clergy: Clergy sexual assault is one of the most common—and now one of the more prominent—types of sexual assault. Those in the clergy are often trusted, and they may break this trust with this heinous act.
  • Nursing Homes: Many nursing home residents suffer from sexual assault due to staff, visitors, other residents, or even family members.
  • Employers: Employers often use their position of power to take advantage of victims and exploit their position. Employees are often threatened with termination if they report an incident.

While there are many parties who may be responsible for sexual assault, most of the cases that occur involve someone the survivor knows. Even if the sexual assault doesn’t happen on the premises of an organization or business, they may still be responsible. In certain circumstances, when an organization or business such as a church, day care center, or school takes custody or possession of vulnerable children they are responsible for protecting the children on and off their property.

Choosing an Experienced Sexual Assault Law Firm in Virginia

At Breit Cantor, we have access to medical and psychological experts who can provide significant support to a sexual assault survivor while also serving in a support role during litigation. We understand that what you have gone through has likely affected every aspect of your life; as such, we provide compassionate and personalized legal services tailored to your unique situation. We strive to help you realize your power and serve as your voice in obtaining justice.

We have obtained a number of significant Virginia sexual assault results through jury verdicts and settlement:

  • Represented a patient who was sexually assaulted in a hospital ward by a male hospital attendant during her inpatient stay. The attendant had a criminal history before hiring and there were allegations of improper sexual touching prior to the rape. The case involved allegations of negligence, negligent retention, and a significant issue of respondeat superior. The case was settled for $1,125,000.
  • Represented a plaintiff who was sexually assaulted by a restaurant employee in the restaurant. The employee had been acquitted of the criminal charges that he allegedly had bitten the plaintiff’s breast and exposed himself to her. After a four-day trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff for $800,000, including $100,000 punitive damages against the employee and $100,000 punitive damages against the store owner.
  • Represented plaintiff who was sexually assaulted as a child. Case was settled for $1,250,000.
  • Represented a young female tenant of an apartment complex who was sexually assaulted by a maintenance worker employed by the defendants. The case was settled for $3 million prior to trial.

Learn more about your legal options: Call a Virginia sexual assault injury lawyer at Breit Cantor today. We have offices located in Richmond and Virginia Beach and proudly serve clients throughout Virginia.

Do I need to hire an attorney if I was sexually assaulted?

If you’ve experienced sexual assault, you have the option of hiring a lawyer if you feel comfortable and ready to do so. Lawyers with experience in sexual assault cases will be able to advise you on what your legal options are and what steps need to be taken (like conducing a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam, for example) all within a confidential attorney-client privilege setting. Even if you’re not sure whether a legal proceeding is right for you, a lawyer can help you understand your legal options and timeframes so you can make the best decisions for yourself.

How long do I have to file a civil lawsuit for sexual assault in Virginia?

According to Virginia Code 8.01-243, there is a two-year statute of limitations in most civil cases, meaning legal action must be taken within two years from the date of the sexual assault incident. There are exceptions, however, in sexual assault cases involving a minor under the age of 18. For survivors of sexual assault who turn 20 years old after 2011, they have 20 years from their 18th birthday (i.e. until they reach their 38th birthday) to file a civil lawsuit. This comes with some exceptions depending on the factual circumstances of each case. You can discuss these circumstances with an attorney after they have evaluated your case. Some victims of sexual assault choose to proceed with legal action immediately, while others wait until they feel ready. There is no right or wrong timetable, only what works best for the victim. 

Can I sue for online sexual harassment?

Online sexual harassment may be in violation of Virginia statute 18.2-152.7:1 of “The Computer Crimes Act” if a perpetrator has used a computer to share lewd, lascivious or indecent language. Violators can be criminally convicted and may be prosecutable under civil statutes as well. A lawyer can help you determine if other factors can be considered to strengthen the case, such as efforts to coerce or compel illegal or immoral acts or rising to the escalation point of causing emotional distress.

Who is liable for sexual harassment at work?

It is the responsibility of the employer to provide a safe working environment for employees and to address and stop all instances of sexual assault in the workplace. Therefore, under federal and state regulations, employers can be found liable for sexual harassment at work. Under Virginia law, sexual harassment at the workplace can include sexual advancements that are unwanted, requests for sexual favors, or verbal or physical acts that are sexual in nature from a direct supervisor, co-worker, vendor or customer.

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