Have you been sexually assaulted in Atlanta, GA? Contact Hasner Law to learn about your legal options. You may have the right to file a lawsuit and demand compensation for your injuries, pain, and suffering. We offer a free consultation, so give our compassionate and caring legal team a call to schedule yours now.
How Can an Atlanta Sexual Assault Lawyer Help Me?
Sexual assault, including nonconsensual sexual acts such as rape and child molestation, can be a difficult subject to talk about. However, our law firm understands the sensitive nature of these matters and we will take the time to fully investigate your claim. This begins with you and making sure that your side of the story is heard. We will then review any police reports, interview witnesses, and go over medical records.
This is all in an effort to make sure that those responsible are held accountable for their actions. Part of this process involves calculating your damages and then filing a claim against the appropriate individuals. This could be a single person or it could be several people and even a business, depending on how and where the assault occurred.
We have experience negotiating with insurance companies and will work hard to get you the settlement you deserve. If need be, we are also prepared to take your case to trial.
Please do not hesitate to call our experienced Atlanta sexual assault lawyers for help today. As always, your first consultation is free and confidential.
Injuries Following Sexual Assault
Victims of sexual assault are often left with deep psychological, physical and emotional scars. The most common injuries we see are:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Sexually transmitted infections
- Substance abuse
- Sleep disorders
- Eating disorders
- Bruising and internal injuries, and
- Injuries that require reconstructive surgery.
As you can imagine, a victim may suffer from more than one of these conditions. As a result, treatment can lead to high medical bills, counseling costs, and even lost income for periods when the person is unable to work.
Bringing a Sexual Assault or Rape Personal Injury Lawsuit in Georgia
With that in mind, a civil lawsuit is the best option to make sure that you receive the financial compensation you deserve. But, keep in mind these cases are not always easy and require evidence that establishes the following:
- The attacker intended to cause you harm or offensive sexual contact
- You did not consent to contact
- The contact occurred, and
- You suffered an injury as a result.
Note that each of these “elements” must be proven in order to have a successful claim. For that reason, it’s important to have a qualified Atlanta personal injury attorney involved that understands how to gather the appropriate evidence and put together a strong case.
What Compensation Am I Entitled To?
Now, proving that you were sexually assaulted entitles you to several forms of compensation. This money is often referred to as “damages.” Damages will cover your medical bills, including emergency treatment, follow-up treatment, rehabilitation, surgeries, and prescriptions. They also cover counseling, lost income, and amounts to represent the pain and suffering you endured.
In some cases, you may also be able to pursue what is known as “punitive damages.” These are above and beyond your ordinary damages and are meant to punish the wrongdoer. In particularly egregious cases, the amount of these awards can get quite large.
To be successful, you need to show that the person acted with wilful misconduct or malice. Unlike most personal injury lawsuits, like car accidents, these conditions are often present in cases involving sexual assault or rape.
However, one of the main challenges with these lawsuits is the issue of collecting on a judgment. Insurance policies do not cover this type of injury, and the perpetrator may not have enough assets to pay you the compensation you are owed.
But, there are options to consider in attempting to collect on any judgment. Our Atlanta sexual assault injury attorneys can help you explore all solutions to make sure you receive your award.
Who Else May Be Responsible For Damages?
When it comes to sexual assault, there may be instances where the property owner can be held liable for your injuries. This is under a legal theory known as “negligent security,” or premises liability, which requires landowners to take steps to keep people on their property safe.
Places of business that are open to the public, such as hotels, night clubs, gas stations, and nursing homes, require a higher standard of care than with other property, such as a private residence.
For these establishments, owners must exercise reasonable care to keep the premises safe for the public. Here are a few examples of what might not be considered reasonable care:
- Inadequate lighting for a parking lot in a dangerous neighborhood
- Malfunctioning or missing locks on hotel room doors or windows
- No security, or inadequately trained security
As you might imagine, what’s reasonable under the circumstances is not always clear and depends on the specific facts of each case. Further, keep in mind that not every business is required to have a security system in place.
However, if there is prior evidence of criminal acts occurring on the premises, and the owner failed to address these issues, this could be evidence that reasonable steps were not taken to protect the public.
How a Civil Case is Different from a Criminal Case
Now, in cases of sexual assault, you may choose to press criminal charges against the perpetrator. This is done with the help of law enforcement and state prosecutors. Criminal processes are out of your control and it is up to the state to file the case and negotiate any plea deals with the defendant. These cases can lead to criminal punishments, including jail time and fines paid to the state.
However, it’s important to note that a civil case operates differently. These are lawsuits and require the victim (or his or her attorney) to file the claim. They have different timelines and different procedural rules to follow. Further, unlike criminal matters, a person served with a lawsuit has no right to have an attorney appointed if they cannot afford one.
But, there are also no criminal sanctions imposed on individuals held liable in civil cases. Instead, the person could be asked to pay you amounts in damages to compensate you for your injuries.
There is also a much lower standard of proof in these cases. In criminal matters, the prosecutor must show that the person committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that there can be no other logical conclusion drawn from the facts other than the person is guilty.
By contrast, in a civil case, the standard of proof is a preponderance of the evidence. This simply means that you need only show that the person more likely than not was responsible. In other words, your claim must persuade a jury that there is more than a 50% chance that the person committed the assault.
Ultimately what this means is that a perpetrator could be found not guilty in a criminal case, but still be held responsible in a civil matter. Further, if the person was convicted of a crime, this guilt can be used as evidence of wrongdoing in a subsequent civil lawsuit.
As you can see, these cases can get quite complex, so it’s important to have a qualified personal injury attorney on your side that can advise you on how criminal charges affect your claim, and vice versa.
What To Do If You Are Raped or Sexually Assaulted
A sexual assault is a traumatic experience and should not be taken lightly by anyone. If you are the victim of this heinous act, it’s important to get yourself to a safe place and contact someone you trust. Seek medical attention right away. This is important for both your own physical wellbeing and because your health records can be used as evidence in both criminal and civil cases.
Remember, there are many counseling services available to you for emotional support. When you feel up to it, try to document the incident as best as you can. This might involve writing down your recollection of the events, taking photographs of the scene, obtaining the contact information of any witnesses, and noting how much time you had to take off work and any medical appointments or additional expenses you incurred.
Unfortunately, many victims of rape and other sex crimes are too scared or embarrassed to talk to the police or an attorney about their experience. However, know that personal injury lawyers are here to help, and your case may help prevent this from happening to other people.
Contact Our Atlanta Sexual Assault Lawyers Today
You have the right to seek justice. Don’t delay, there is a two-year deadline for filing a claim based on these types of injuries. This is known as the statute of limitations and it starts to run on the date of your injury. Contact our Atlanta personal injury lawyers today for a free consultation.