Bringing Civil Lawsuits Against Sexual Assault
If you have been the victim of sexual assault, you need to know that you are not in this alone. At the Overett Group, we are here to help. If you or a loved one has suffered as a sexual assault victim, contact Attorney Paul Overett for a free consultation to help determine if you can bring a civil lawsuit forward. Our firm is compassionate and experienced; we can provide the strong representation you need during this difficult time.
What is a civil sexual assault case in California?
A study out of UC San Diego’s Center on Gender Equity and Health estimates that in California, 86% of women and 53% of men have experienced “some form of sexual harassment and/or sexual assault in their lifetime.”
In sexual assault cases, a perpetrator can face both criminal and civil penalties. A civil lawsuit is designed to award a victim compensatory damages for an injury caused by a wrongful party. This differs from a criminal court case, which is intended to punish a defendant for their actions. It is important to note that there is a different set of standards that govern civil cases and that a civil lawsuit is not dependent upon the outcome in a criminal case.
Sexual Assault Laws in CA
“Sexual battery” is codified into law under California Civil Code 1708.5. Pursuant to this section, a person may be liable for sexual assault if they act with the intent to make any of the following sexually offensive types of contact with a person:
- “cause a harmful or offensive contact with an intimate part of another by use of his or her intimate part.”
- “cause a harmful or offensive contact with another by use of his or her intimate part.”
- “cause an imminent apprehension of the conduct described in paragraph (1) or (2).”
Third-Party Liability in a Sexual Assault Case
In some cases, there may be more than one party that can be held liable in a sexual assault case. Third-party liability may exist when a sexual assault occurs at a person’s place of employment or when an employer fails to do a background check on their employee.
There may also be third-party liability where an institution such as a school or university knows or should have known about the alleged abuse and fails to act. It is important to consult a knowledgeable personal injury attorney regarding the specifics of your case to determine who may be held liable.
California Sexual Assault Statute of Limitations
Assembly Bill 1619 extended the statute of limitations for sexual assault victims to bring a civil action for recovery of damages:
- “Within 10 years from the date of the last act, attempted act, or assault with the intent to commit an act, of sexual assault by the defendant against the plaintiff.
- Within three (3) years from the date, the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered that an injury or illness resulted from an act, attempted act, or assault with the intent to commit an act of sexual assault by the defendant against the plaintiff.”
Damages in a Civil Sexual Assault Case
The court may award a plaintiff in a sexual assault case general, special, and punitive damages. This means that depending on the case, a defendant may be liable for all out-of-pocket damages incurred by a victim, including medical expenses and lost wages, but also non-economic damages such as pain-and-suffering.
California also allows a court to impose punitive damages or those designed to punish the defendant for their actions. Because of the gravity of sexual assault cases, in addition to awarding equitable relief (monetary damages), the court may also issue an injunction, award costs, and “any other relief the court deems proper.”
Hire an Experienced Sexual Assault Lawyer in California
We will provide a confidential case consultation. You will speak directly to an experienced personal injury attorney who will explain the legal process and walk you through your options. Contact Overett Group today at (562) 986-9864 to discuss your rights.