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Filing a Civil Claim for Sexual Assault

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What Is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is defined as touching or contact of a sexual nature that is non-consensual. The act may be done by threat of force, actual force, violence, or “obtaining consent” from a victim who is incapable of giving consent. A victim of sexual assault has the right to sue the individual in civil court for damages. Civil court is different from criminal court, where the prosecutor handles the case and the assailant may receive prison time.

Can I Sue for Sexual Assault in Civil Court?

Yes, but a plaintiff must choose a cause of action to sue the defendant under. Personal injury law does not have a sexual assault cause of action. Thus, a plaintiff must instead choose one or more of the following legal theories to bring against the defendant:

Can I Sue More than One Person for My Sexual Assault?

Yes. Remember, who you can bring a civil lawsuit against depends on the facts and circumstances of the case. In some situations, a plaintiff can sue additional parties for the assault. For example, if the sexual assault occurred at school, the plaintiff can sue the school administration or a teacher for allowing the assault to happen.

How Is a Civil Claim for Sexual Assault Proven?

How a civil claim for sexual assault is proven depends on whether there is a criminal case or not. If there is a criminal case, the plaintiff may use the legal rule “collateral estoppel” to prove their civil case. Under collateral estoppel, the plaintiff is allowed to introduce evidence from a criminal case that has already used to determine the defendant’s guilt. Often, a civil case is easier to win if the defendant has already been convicted of sexual assault because it has been proven in court that the defendant has committed the assault.

If there has not been a criminal case, the plaintiff must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant more than likely committed the assault. This is done by satisfying the elements required to prove the tort the plaintiff is suing under, such as assault or battery.

Should I Contact a Lawyer about Filing a Civil Claim for Sexual Assault?

Yes, a sexual assault civil claim is hard to prove because of the evidence needed and the number of different parties that may be involved. Contact a personal injury lawyer to understand more about your legal rights and how to present the case.

Photo of page author Taelonnda Sewell

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 09-19-2016 11:41 AM PDT

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