Sexual assault is one of the worst violations that someone can commit. Unfortunately, there are far too many situations where sexual assault occurs because others have turned a blind eye or not taken proper precautions.
While those parties aren’t necessarily criminally liable for what occurred, that doesn’t mean that they escape responsibility. With the help of an Albuquerque sexual assault lawyer, victims of sexual assault may be able to get restitution to help them manage the challenges they face.
Victims of sexual assault are burdened with a variety of costs because of what was done to them. They deserve restitution that addresses these costs, which can be sought through the civil process.
In a civil case, it’s not just the perpetrator who can be held responsible but also those who could have foreseeably taken measures to prevent the situation. At Berenson & Associates, PC, we work with victims to seek what they deserve.
When you work with a sexual assault lawyer, they act as your representative and advocate throughout the process. This can be especially important in sexual assault claims, where it is understandably difficult for victims to discuss their situation or confront those responsible.
A lawyer, though, can represent a victim and help them seek what they deserve without requiring the victim to have a significant amount of direct involvement. Your lawyer can investigate the incident and surrounding circumstances to determine liability, negotiate on your behalf, and represent you to make your case in court if necessary.
In a sexual assault claim in Albuquerque, NM, there are several parties who could be held liable in a civil case. These include:
The most obvious potentially liable party is the person or persons who committed the assault. It’s important to note that, even if they haven’t been convicted in a criminal court, they still may be held liable in a civil court. That’s because the burden of proof to be found civilly liable is lower than the burden necessary to prove that someone is criminally guilty.
The perpetrator of the act is not the only party that could potentially be held liable for sexual assault. Even those who are not at risk of a criminal conviction could be held liable if they failed to take reasonable measures that they should have, which would likely have prevented the situation.
One third party that could potentially be held liable is the property owner, depending on where the incident occurred. If the assault happened in a location where visitors are invited, the property owner might be liable if the possibility of such a situation was foreseeable and they failed to take reasonable security precautions. These locations can include a bar, a parking garage, an office building, or some other public location.
Having neglectful security practices could mean a lack of sufficient lighting, surveillance, or security guards, depending on the location. It could also mean failing to maintain the security measures that were already in place, such as fences, lighting, locks, and security cameras. Even security guards who fall asleep on the job, fail to do what they are supposed to, or are poorly trained could be considered negligent security on the part of the property owner.
Another potentially liable party could be an institution that has failed to properly background check individuals associated with them or has failed to put proper protocols in place to mitigate the risk of assault. These institutions include:
Such places all have some level of duty to properly screen the individuals who provide services or are in positions of authority. They also have a duty to have protocols in place that help prevent offenses like sexual assault and address accusations. Institutions that fail to provide proper protection could be considered liable as well.
If your claim goes to court, your sexual assault lawyer must be able to prove liability on the part of the defendant. It’s only once liability is proven that you can then collect restitution from them. Just how this process works will differ a little depending on who the defendant is.
Proving liability on the part of the perpetrator in a civil claim is similar to doing so in criminal court. Your lawyer must demonstrate to the court that the perpetrator committed the assault. It’s important to remember that the burden of proof in the civil case, though, is not as significant as in the criminal one. Just because someone is found not to be guilty in criminal court doesn’t mean that they might not be found liable in a civil claim.
Proving that a third party is liable can be a little more of a complex process. Doing so requires three things:
The first thing that needs to be shown is that they had some responsibility to provide measures that would potentially mitigate the risks of a sexual assault happening. This means that the risk needs to be foreseeable, perhaps because of the level of crime in the neighborhood or the general risk in a particular kind of position.
Additionally, past occurrences in similar situations or security measures already in place, even if insufficient, can be used to demonstrate that the potential risk was foreseeable.
Once a need for these kinds of measures is established, your sexual assault lawyer needs to show that these were not sufficiently met. How that is done will depend on the situation. For instance, it could be that security measures like broken locks, lights, or security cameras weren’t fixed in a reasonable amount of time. It could also be something like insufficient measures, such as not enough security cameras, lights, or poorly trained security guards.
For institutions, there could be a number of problems, including:
Whatever the particulars, your lawyer must demonstrate that whatever measures were taken were not what should have reasonably been expected.
Finally, your sexual assault lawyer in Albuquerque must make the case that the assault happened as a direct result of these measures not being implemented. They likely want to demonstrate how the proper measures would have prevented the assault from occurring.
They can then show how the defendant’s poor practices enabled the assault to happen. Proving these facts can be tricky, and your lawyer may make use of an expert witness, like a security consultant, to establish them.
Once negligence on the part of the defendant has been sufficiently proven, then you may collect damages from them. Those damages must cover costs that are directly related to the sexual assault, which your lawyer also needs to show.
The kinds of things that could be covered include medical bills for any treatment that was necessary following your assault. If you had to miss work as well, the wages that you lost could be included.
In the case of sexual assault, the majority of what is addressed through damages will be the psychological and emotional costs involved. Sexual assault is a traumatic thing that can leave a person with an array of psychological elements to deal with.
These things don’t often have a clear financial component and aren’t solved by money, although something like therapy can often be helpful. They are, though, given a valuation and compensated. That money isn’t expected to fix things, but the hope is that it may be able to help you better manage those concerns.
Another possible source of financial award in a sexual assault claim is punitive damages. These are damages that are meant to serve as a punishment when the behavior of the defendant is particularly egregious.
In a sexual assault case, this could be awarded when the perpetrator is the defendant, as they committed a malicious act, which these damages are meant to address. If a third party is the defendant, it’s still possible that these could be awarded if something about their behavior was egregious in the eyes of the court.
We understand the sensitivity that is needed in a sexual assault case. Our team also understands that the victims are owed restitution by those who may have been able to prevent the situation from happening.
This presents a challenge, though, as getting restitution often involves a confrontation with those who may be held responsible. We understand how challenging the idea of dealing with this process can be for those in this situation.
Our sexual assault attorneys also know that it may feel like money isn’t going to help, anyway. We understand this feeling and acknowledge that money can’t solve every problem. You deserve, though, the space that money can create for you to work on managing and processing those feelings.
At Berenson & Associates, PC, we try to help you get everything that you deserve while creating as little burden on you as possible. The benefit of working with a lawyer is that they can represent you and fight on your behalf. Contact us today to discuss your case.